As expected, Oleg Tinkov announced today that he has officially purchased the Saxo-Tinkoff team from Bjarne Riis. – and it will be renamed Tinkoff-Saxo for 2014.
The announcement was made during a live video streaming from Google’s London headquarters organised by the Global Cycling Network YouTube channel. Riis also attended the announcement along with Saxo Bank CEO Lars Seier Christensen, team leader Alberto Contador and Nicolas Roche.
Reports suggest that Tinkov purchased the team for an estimated price of 6 million euros, while Riis will remain on as team for a salary of 1 million euros per season.
“I’m very happy to announce that Oleg Tinkov will be the new owner of the team. We’ve made agreement of him buying Riis Cycling from immediate effect,” Riis said.
“Riis Cycling will be renamed Tinkov Sport. He owns 100% of the team and he will be sole owner. It also means I’ll continue in a position as general for at least three years. Tinkoff Credit Systems will become the main sponsor and Saxo Bank has agreed to become second name sponsor for 2014. For 2014 the team will be called Tinkoff-Saxo.”
"I’m so happy," said Tinkov. "It’s my private investment, it’s my money. Cycling is my passion. Finally I have my WorldTour team. I also have Bjarne as best team manager and Alberto as best rider. I’m so happy today." Tinkov then posed for a photo with Riis and Contador.
Tinkov has been a co-sponsor for the Saxo Bank team since July 2012, but announced last summer that he planned to give up sponsorship after seeing Contador struggled to be competitive against Chris Froome. Indeed, Tinkov openly criticised Contador and Riis via Twitter straining their relationship. And, at one point, he began talks with other teams.
Meanwhile Riis’ future in cycling remains in doubt, as an on-going investigation by Denmark’s anti-doping agency continues to focus in on the Dane’s involvement in the use of performance enhancing drugs, along with his ties to media "hot bed" Michael Rasmussen.
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