Oleg Tinkov’s next outrageous move.

Tinkov. Pay for tour day reductions?

Tinkov. Pay for tour day reductions?

Forward motion, that’s the way Russian millionaire and Tinkoff-Saxo owner Oleg Tinkov rolls.

If one outrageous tweet doesn’t work, onto the next one. If you can’t sign one massive star, diss him in public and move on to the next star. If Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana failed to take the bait on your 1 million euro three grand tour challenge, then, well, umm, think of something else.

It’s back to the drawing board and bank vault for Tinkov once all three tour rivals to Alberto Contador turned down his offer to compromise their chances of winning the Tour de France in order to entertain him by riding the Giro, Tour and Vuelta.

They gave him a resounding Hell No. Oh, there was some polite talk about bold ideas and wouldn’t it be great and if only it were physically and mentally possible in this day and age. But no, no thanks — but keep the ideas coming because, well, it’s the off-season now and boredom sets in fast. Cycling fans are already moving on to watching lesser sports — bowling, ice hockey, stock car racing.

But fear not, crazy Oleg is not done. He’s scheming as we speak, dreaming up his next stunt, another viral media bomb he can dump on a thrilled media culture. We used to have cynical buffoons like ex-UCI president Pat McQuaid and outrageous team managers like Manolo Saiz (wait, he’s back!) and egomaniacs like Johan Bruyneel and even Patrick Lefevere can’t resist throwing out a few inflammatory remarks now and then but it’s a sign of a new professionalism in the ranks that Tinkov is pretty much all we got now.

He’s our pro cycling reality show, the bull in the china shop, the loose cannon, the bling kid with the chainsaw — you gotta see THIS!!!!!

Really, even the quotable argyle genius Jonathan Vaughters and his attention-getting wardrobe selections have disappeared from the scene. He’s at the University of Denver business school probably trying to learn how to create a new business model for cycling. He barely has time for a few quips on twitter, nothing like his days when he was the mad gadfly in the dark ointment of pro cycling. If that visual makes any sense whatsoever.

But back to Tinkov. It’s hard to guess what is floating around in his brain right now, jostling for attention like six Russian party girls in a hot-tub with potential rich “benefactor.” That is to say, there’s a lot sloshing around and plenty of titillation but perhaps a lack of focus. Hmmm — who to outrage, what sacred cow to roast, what ego to poke, what new flame to pour gasoline on?

For example, Tinkov failed to enlist the top grand tour rivals in his plans. They said the race calendar just didn’t permit them to be competitive for three tours in one year. So there you have the clue. Keep moving forward, eliminate obstacles, bulldoze convention, make shit happen.

Next idea up for funding: One million euros to the three grand tours to shorten their duration to 16-7 days. Yup, over 300,000 euros each to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta organizers to cut out a few days so the show can in fact go on. As in, Froome, Nibali, Quintana and Contador, all three tours in shortened version.

But who can really say? Tinkov is the crazy steel ball in the pinball machine. He’s bouncing off bumpers, slamming into the poppers, jumping from the kickout hole, smacking the ramps and lighting up the entire scoreboard display. He’s going for the highest media score possible.

 

 

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