Tinkov bashes Argos-Shimano.
Every time I hear another pronouncement from Oleg Tinkov, I get the same image from the Cold War days of Russian dictator Nikita Kruschev pounding his shoe on his desk to show his disagreement during a meeting at the UN.
Russia has come a long way since then — more or less — but there’s still those flashes of heavy-handed behavior and rough manners. There’s a Wild West attitude where it almost seems you’re either a member of the Russian mafia or a corrupt businessman. That’s a gross generalization and an unfair assessment of Tinkov but it continues to stick with me.
Tinkov is back in the cycling news with his inflammatory opinion of Argos-Shimano, the team battling his own sponsored Saxo-Tinkoff squad for the final WorldTour license. “Alberto Contador is a superstar, the best racer in the world, and I can’t even remember the names of whoever Argos-Shimano have in their squad,” said Tinkov. “It’s absolutely, obviously, a crazy situation. Personally, it’s difficult for me to imagine a situation where we don’t receive a license.”
Did he say crazy and difficult to imagine? If you believe Tyler Hamilton, it’s crazy that Tinkov is allowed anywhere near pro cycling
. Hamilton rode for Oleg’s Tinkoff Credit Systems team back in 2007 and claims Tinkov told all the riders he didn’t care what they did, just not to get caught. Hamilton summed up his opinion this way: “His return is a setback for cycling. We do not need such a person in cycling.”
It’s probable that Argos-Shimano sprinter Marcel Kittel feels the same way.
After Tinkov’s disparaging remarks, he tweeted “Olé Oleg! Nice interview. You’re right: why should cycling need credibility and rules?!” The German sprinter then tapped the emoticons for ‘hear no evil; see no evil; speak no evil’.
Now nobody at the UCI can explain how they make the final decision on WorldTour licenses in general and how they factor in the “sporting ethics” in particular. Hamilton has called out Tinkov as encouraging his riders to dope and the former CSC rider has also insisted that Bjarne Riis encouraged his blood doping. Will these allegations carry any weight in the UCI deliberations?
We don’t know the UCI formula but you’ve got major strikes against Riis and Tinkov and the team has almost no qualifying points since Contador’s total doesn’t count for 18 months because of his past doping suspension. But that hasn’t stopped the aggressive Tinkov from lobbying hard in the media. He also knows hot to generate attention and controversy — for example, his banned sexy TV commercial
for his Tinkoff beer.
Argos-Shimano doesn’t have that kind of doping baggage but on the other hand they don’t have the best stage racer in the world in Señor Pistolero. Twisted Spoke thinks somehow, some way the UCI gives the last WorldTour spot to Saxo-Tinkoff despite everything. Pat McQuaid has never shown he wants to send teams a strong anti-doping message.
Crazy? Yes, that’s pro cycling in a single word. Nothing changes until the shoe drops hard on McQuaid’s head.