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Tinkoff-Saxo: Interview with Oleg Tinkov
logotinkoff Tinkoff-Saxo owner Oleg Tinkov and CEO Stefano Feltrin are both keen to share their enthusiasm for the team, and its unique place the sport of cycling and ambitions for the season and beyond. Here, we bring an interview with Tinkoff-Saxo team owner, Oleg Tinkov and we will follow up with an interview with Stefano Feltrin.


Oleg Tinkov is the owner and main sponsor of Tinkoff-Saxo. As well as being known as a highly successful businessman, Oleg has a great passion for the sport of cycling. Being both the leader and a fan gives him an enviable position and great insight, here he shares it with us:

On if he was the UCI President…

I would try to commercialise cycling. Teams need money in order to develop their training bases, to hire the best talent in nutrition and physicians, and to fight doping. This money should be coming not only from sponsors, but also from race organisers and the UCI.

On why he wanted his own team…

I don’t believe in pure sponsorship in modern cycling: once you pay the bills as the sponsor, you ultimately own the team, but have no document on it. I prefer to have this certificate.

On buying a team rather than building one from scratch…

It is long and complicated, that’s why I believe that Alonso eventually will buy or join an existing team. On top of that, Bjarne Riis is by far the best sport director in the peloton, and we have one of the strongest team line-ups. Besides money, I bring enthusiasm, passion and love of cycling to the team.

On the aims for the season…

It is still a transition year, but I hope we will be good even in 2014. We target some classics, the Tour and La Vuelta. I hope Rafael Majka will make a showdown in May in Italy too.

On the importance of science…

I believe that cycling today is what you eat, how you recover, and discipline. Science is very important: we will create nutrition and diet programs, hire smart physicians and sign more strong riders.

On the team’s five year plan…

To be the strongest, most respectable and BEST team in the world.

On the biggest challenges facing the team…

To hire the best talents and scientists.

On the challenges ahead…

Business is always full of challenges and, usually, what you predict is not what actually happened – and vice versa.

On doping…

I do [have a zero tolerance policy]. But don’t exactly understand what it means. For today’s riders and staff I very much do, but I cannot to dig into their past – it gets us nowhere; the peloton would end up with NO directors and staff, they all came from the era of the Seventies, Eighties, Nineties, and Noughties.

On his favourite race…

One of my favourite races is Flanders. I also like Roubaix. But of course the Giro and the Tour are good, too.

On building a bank versus a cycling team…

It is the same. You work with very ambitious human beings, and need to manage their expectations and egos. People are always difficult to manage. I believe that all of the business and management strategies can be directly applied to the sport management.

On what other sports he’d invest in…

I love cycling, and this is not about the investment, but passion. Therefore, I am not interested in investing in any other sport.



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