In an interview with with French news channel, ITV, during htis week’s Tour de France, Oleg Tinkov said he believes that his star sprinter, Peter Sagan, has already signed with Bora-Argon 18 for next season.
“I believe he [Sagan] is the best cyclist now in the peloton … It makes my decision [to close the team] even harder, but I think Peter is good,” Tinkov said.
“I understand he signed with Bora [Bora-Argon 18] … I will gladly follow Peter on TV, or over the net, and if I come some time to the race when Peter comes out of the Bora bus, he will not hesitate to take a photo with me.”
Tinkov also indicated that he believes Sagan will earn a higher salary than the reported €5 million a year he earns at Tinkoff.
“According to my information Bora paid him even more … I mean that’s the market. I know for definite he got more. I’m not going to disclose the number, I know even the number. But he signed for much more money than I paid him. That’s a fact.”
Previous reports this month, suggested that Sagan and Bora-Argon 18 had come to an agreement, however, neither party was inclined to affirm the speculation.
In the past, Tinkov has been critical of Sagan, with regard to his performances compared to the high salary he earns.
In fact, there were claims last the year that the gregarious Russian team owner was considering reducing Sagan’s salary as a result of a poor showing during his spring campaign.
However, Sagan later went on to win the overall title at the Tour of California, stage at the Tour de Suisse, the green jersey in the Tour de France, a stage at the Vuelta a Espana and his crowning achievement – the World Championship road race title.
“After my criticism last year, he started winning straight away,” Tinkov said in the interview. “He won TOC and then he was very good at the Tour in green. He won some other races and then he became the world champion. Then there’s no problem. It’s as simple as that.
“We’re in an expensive business. You write a check for €5 million and you have a contract or three years and then you realise he’s not won… what can do you because you still have to pay the contract. You don’t have any other tools other than to voice your opinion and criticise him. I think that I deserve that with how much money I’m paying him. I still think that his results after are based off my criticism. After I criticized him, he immediately won TOC and since then we’ve not had any issues.”
Tinkov will unceremoniously bid farewell to cycling at the end of the season, as he plans to fold his Tinkoff team for good – citing frustration and disapproval for how the sport is run.
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