Tinkoff-Saxo could boycott 2016 Tour de France

Oleg Tinkov said it would be "not such a big deal" for Tinkoff-Saxo to sit out the 2016 Tour de France as he calls for reform.

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Tinkoff-Saxo could boycott 2016 Tour de France play

Tinkoff-Saxo could boycott 2016 Tour de France

(Omni Sports)
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The owner of Tinkoff-Saxo has warned he is prepared to boycott next year's Tour de France unless changes are made to ensure professional cycling is more sustainable.

Oleg Tinkov has never been shy of voicing his opinion on the need for reform in order to safeguard the future of the sport.

And, not for the first time, the Tinkoff-Saxo boss has threatened not to enter his outfit in the Tour if the powers that be fail to offer more support to teams

Tinkov wrote in his Cyclingnews blog: "I obviously understand that ASO [Tour de France organiser Amaury Sport Organisation] is powerful because it has the Tour de France, but I believe that the teams have more power, especially when they come together like with Velon [a scheme set up to create a new financial model that will help ensure teams enjoy sustainable futures].

"If the teams decide to come up with an ultimatum and not go to the Tour, what is ASO going to do? They can't do anything.

"I'm ready to boycott the 2016 Tour de France to make them understand that things have to change. It's not such a big deal. Similar things happen in other sports, players have gone on strike in the NBA or the NHL hockey league.

"I can afford not to go to the Tour de France for a year if all the teams agree not to go too. Of course it would hurt the fans in the short term, but it benefits the sport as a whole in the long term. Otherwise we will continue to struggle. I really hope that ASO can understand that.

"According to my information, many of the teams in the peloton are struggling financially more and more because they have less and less budget but the stars riders are requesting bigger and bigger salaries.

"That is why change is desperately needed. Agents are more involved now and work with 90 per cent of the riders, so they're pushing up the prices.

"I don't think some teams can even respect their budgets for the year and are struggling quarter to quarter to pay the bills. It seems they're signing riders in the hope they will have a sponsor for 2016.

"Fortunately it's not a problem because my team's budget, in contrast to other teams, is 100 per cent sure for next year. As usual, we're going to meet with Saxo Bank at the Tour de France and decide things with them for 2016.

"If they carry on as a second sponsor it'll be nice but if they stop it'll be nice too and we can have a nice big Tinkoff logo on the chest.

"Of course we'd be happy to share our success with another sponsor, I'm not greedy, but it has to be for serious money. I won't sacrifice the value of my title sponsorship just for one or two million, it needs to be a real big cheque, than we can work well together."

This year's Tour starts in Utrecht on Saturday, when Vincenzo Nibali will begin the defence of his title.

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