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Tinkoff's attempt to save Team Sky rejected by Brailsford

Joe Robinson
8 Feb 2019

Russian billionaire offered £20 million but wanted control of the team

Russian billionaire and former Tinkoff team boss Oleg Tinkov offered Sir Dave Brailsford £20 million to save Team Sky but the offer was rejected, according to reports in the Spanish press.

Following the announcement that British broadcaster Sky would no longer continue its lucrative sponsorship of the British WorldTour team, Spanish newspaper AS suggests that Tinkov contacted Brailsford offering him £20 million per year.

It is also reported that the 51-year-old businessman stipulated that with the funds ultimately came control of the team. This is why AS believes Brailsford turned down the offer. 

Tinkov's relationship with professional cycling is well documented and brought as much controversy as it did success. 

He was one of the biggest sole financiers of the sports for four years as he sponsored the Tinkoff-Saxo and Tinkoff teams between 2012 and 2016, winning the Vuelta a Espana and Giro d'Italia with Alberto Contador and the Tour of Flanders with Peter Sagan.

He also endeavoured to inject new life into professional cycling by offering the top General Classification riders of the era, Contador, Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana, a financial incentive to race all three Grand Tours in one season.

Tinkov was also routinely criticised for his unconventional approach to team management often calling out riders in the public domain for poor performances and lambasting other team bosses for their approach to cycling.

In 2015, Tinkov also made a racist remark about former US president Barack Obama on Twitter.

Eventually, the Russian grew tired of the sport following a long-standing battle with the UCI and ASO regarding reforms to the sport culminating with him closing the Tinkoff team.

It's this controversy and uncertainty that may have played a part in deterring Brailsford from exploring this potential option further.

The Team Sky boss has set himself the timeline of the Tour de France in July to find a new sponsor to save the team from folding. 

With its large budget of £34 million per year - the largest in pro cycling - the options for Brailsford are limited. Everyone from Elon Musk to Amazon's Jeff Bezos have been named as potential suitors while rumours have also suggested that Comcast, the new owners of Sky, may continue their involvement for two more years.

One name that stood above the rest was Sylvan Adams, an Israeli-Candian businessman who currently finances the Israel Cycling Academy ProContinental team. 

He was also largely instrumental in bringing the Giro to Israel in 2018 thanks to an £80 million donation to RCS and also has been a leading light in developing cycling in Israel.

It's believed he is keen to secure a WorldTour place and considers the departing Team Sky to be an option.

Cyclist has contacted Team Sky for comment regarding Tinkoff and the latest sponsorship news