New owner to splash cash on Roche team
Nicolas Roche will have a new boss next season after Russian entrepreneur Oleg Tinkov penned a deal to buy Bjarne Riis' Danish Saxo-Tinkoff team.
Roche was at yesterday's announcement in London where controversial businessman Tinkov outlined his plans to build the best team in world.
The team, which will be rebranded as Tinkov-Saxo, will initially be built around Spaniard Alberto Contador, who has settled his differences with the Russian after they fell out during the Tour de France this year.
Riis, who won the 1996 Tour de France, has agreed a three-year deal as team manager.
Tinkov's company was a co-sponsor of the team this year along with Denmark's Saxo Bank. The entrepreneur, who according to media reports has paid €6m for the team founded more than a decade ago by Riis, said there would be additional funding to strengthen the squad over the next few years.
"We could buy, and we will buy, more riders, stronger riders, more stars if you wish," Tinkov said before adding that the line-up for next season had already been settled.
He initially said he would not renew his deal with the team after sniping at Contador when the former winner finished only fourth in the Tour.
"Oleg and I have spent a lot of time together and what happened immediately after the Tour is a long way behind us," Contador said. "The riders I need to help me achieve my ambitions will have their future guaranteed for the coming years."
The new owner's Tinkoff Credit Systems company will be the main title sponsor for the next three years. Saxo Bank, a backer since 2008, will remain as the second sponsor in 2014 when the team will compete under the Tinkoff-Saxo name.
Tinkov said he has been passionate about cycling since he got his first bike as a 12-year-old growing up in Siberia.
He believed it was a good time to invest in the sport as it recovers following the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.
"I strongly believe doping is over," said Tinkov. "In serious and big teams there is no issue about that now.
"It's over now, cycling has changed," adding he had zero tolerance for doping.