Team Tinkov Credit Systems?
Bjarne Riis has ended negotiations with Tinkoff for sponsorship next year following Oleg Tinkov's twitter rants and 'win at all costs' attitude. He said: "During the course of our extensive negotiations with Tinkoff Bank it has become clear that we are unable to settle on common views and the ideas that are necessary for our partnership to grow and be successful for both parties beyond 2013. Most importantly, we disagree on how the team should be run. For all of these reasons, I have decided to explore other possibilities and end the negotiations with Tinkoff Bank. I would like to thank Oleg Tinkov personally and Tinkoff Bank for their great contribution to the team. I look forward to working with Tinkoff Bank for the rest of 2013, and will also take this opportunity to wish them all the best for the future.” It's the right move from Riis but more worryingly there is already talk of a new team in 2014 - Tinkov Credit Systems managed by Oleg himself:
Oleg Tinkov to fund his own team - Tinkoff Credit Systems in 2014. 5 years of sponsoring in plans.This is the man Tyler Hamilton accuses of telling riders 'do what it takes to win, just don't get caught'. It would be a step backwards for cycling if these plans come to fruition. I saw this comment on a well known cycling forum earlier and it pretty much sums things up for me: "Why does he need to start up a new team? He should just buy Vini Fantini instead. They need the money and they already have the two qualities he is looking for in a team - yellow kit and a willingness to take drugs."
— Paweł Gadzała (@8aldwin) July 25, 2013
The 1998 Positives
So the French Senate report released details of the 1998 Tour de France EPO positives this week and there were not many surprises.
Andrea Tafi, Erik Zabel, Bo Hamburger (twice), Laurent Jalabert, Marcos Serrano, Jens Heppner, Jeroen Blijlevens, Nicola Minali, Mario Cipollini, Fabio Sacchi, Eddy Mazzoleni, Jacky Durand, Abraham Olano, Laurent Desbiens, Marco Pantani, Manuel Beltran, Jan Ullrich (twice), Kevin Livingston (twice)
Suspicious: Ermanno Brignoli, Alain Turicchia, Pascal Chanteur, Frederic Moncassin, Bobby Julich, Roland Meier, Giuseppe Calcaterra, Stefano Zanini, Eddy Mazzoleni, Stephane Barthe, Stuart O'Grady, Axel Merckx
We see Stuart O'Grady fess up after retiring this week knowing what was coming but there are still a few riders trying to cover their tracks and continuing to lie. An official statement from Laurent Jalaberts agent said: “His name is cited. He acknowledges this state of fact. In keeping with his declarations before the senatorial commission of inquiry, he reiterates that he followed the prescriptions of the medical staff at his successive teams. Although no element of law has been officially notified to him, Laurent Jalabert today assumes responsibility for it and bears the consequences.” Basically 'I doped but I didn't dope', whilst in 2007 Erik Zabel told the world in floods of tears that he used EPO just the once in 2006, stating that the side effects were severe and so he never did it again. Hmm, so whys he on the 2008 list then?...
Poland Meets Italy
The Tour of Poland starts on Saturday with two mountains days in Italy. It should be a good start to the race which is also trialling six-man teams this year. It will still feature a number of the usual Crit style stages that we have come to expect but the opening few days could add some extra spice for 2013. It's an opportunity to see those big-named riders who were missing from Le Tour, the likes of Vincenzo Nibali, Michele Scarponi, Bradley Wiggins, Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Henao will all be there and should provide a glimpse of who's looking ready to challenge for the Worlds and the Vuelta. It's the first time we have seen Wiggins since the Giro and might providing an interesting insight into his form, state of mind and current team dynamic, after all we might not see much more of him in the Sky jersey, or indeed on the road at all. More on the race route tomorrow...