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"Yes, that's one of the reasons. You can have a lot of different ideas about how to say things. He has his way of doing things, and that's his choice," Riis tells CyclingQuotes

EXCLUSIVE

Photo: Sirotti
02.10.2013 @ 11:59 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

While there is still uncertainty regarding the future sponsorship situation for Team Saxo-Tinkoff, team owner Bjarne Riis confirms to CyclingQuotes that the many controversial statements by Oleg Tinkov is part of the reason for the decision to stop the partnership with Tinkoff Bank.

 

A few days after the conclusion of this year's Tour de France, Team Saxo-Tinkoff announced that the negotiations between the team and Tinkoff Bank regarding an extension of the sponsorship agreement had broken down. Since then the  parties have both given different explanations for the ill-fated collaboration.

 

The official announcement from team owner Bjarne Riis indicated that there had been disagreements regarding the future running of the cycling team while Oleg Tinkov has used his Twitter account to point out that the decision was his own.

 

“From 2014 Tinkoff Credit Systems bank will stop sponsoring Riis Cycling. We have decided it for two reasons: Poor sporting merits in 2013 season [and] our own cycling project," he wrote on the day of the announcement. Today, he has made "an unbalanced budget" for the cycling team one of his reasons to leave the ship.

 

The Russian has made plenty of controversial statements on Twitter and has been particularly hash in his criticism of the team's star rider Alberto Contador. Most recently, he stated that he might have changed his decision, had the rumoured collaboration between the Spanish star and the now-defunct Fernando Alonso team been turned into reality.

 

The many statements have been the reason for bad publicity for the cycling team and been a cause for uneasiness for several of the riders. For the first time, Riis now confirms that the many comments have played a role in the breakdown of the negotiations. Asked by CyclingQuotes whether Tinkov's media strategy has been a contributory factor, he says.

 

"Yes, that's one of the reasons. You can have a lot of different ideas about how to say things. He has his way of doing things, and that's his choice."

 

Whatever the reason is, the decision leaves the future of the cycling team in limbo. Tinkov has stated that his farewell opens a 6 million euro gap in the budget and there is still no official announcement regarding new sponsors.

 

At the moment, the team has announced contracts with 15 riders for next season but has been very inactive on the transfer market. Until now, only the signing of neo-professional Michael Valgren has been confirmed while the contracts of 14 of the current riders will expire at the end of the season.

 

The uncertainty regarding the sponsorship situation is a likely reason for the inaction but Riis refuses to elaborate on the progress of his negotiations with current and future riders and potential sponsors.

 

"I am trying to put things together for next season and hopefully I can announce something very soon," he told CyclingQuotes. "I haven't finished things yet but we are working hard."

 

In any case, Riis has to reach a conclusion very soon. The assessment of the team's sporting value which is important for the registration as a ProTeam, is based on points scored by the 10 best riders who have a valid contract with the team on October 20.

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