Although Oleg Tinkov has long stated that he will withdraw from cycling at the end of the 2016 season, the Russian is having second thoughts and has been considering remaining in the sport.
A source close to the team told CyclingTips on Tuesday morning in Andorra that Tinkov spoke to team staff members on the Tour’s rest day on Monday, asking them if they would be willing to do another year with the Tinkoff setup.
However the source has pointed out that many of the team’s top riders are already contracted elsewhere for 2017.
Reports in recent weeks have linked Peter Sagan to a possible move to Bora-Argon 18 and Alberto Contador to Trek-Segafredo. Those riders would in turn likely bring others with them, and possibly staff too.
Should Tinkov be serious in his intention to remain, he would need to bring on other big names to replace the departing stars.
Earlier in the Tour he told Cyclingnews that he would consider staying in cycling if Peter Sagan won two more Tour stages.
In an interview with NBC, Tinkov was asked if he had mixed emotions about leaving the sport.
“Definitely, I do. But it’s a business, right?” Tinkov said. “It’s a very expensive business to be in, and to have a team like I have — let’s call it a super team. Only three or four teams can afford it. It’s a budget of $20M plus. Of course I have a different feeling, inside of my soul. We Russians are famous for this. If you read Dostoyevsky, you know how we are fighting inside ourselves. We are not as rational as Anglo-Saxons. We are always trying to dig inside our own soul.
“I definitely don’t sleep very well with this, but it is rational. I am paying $20M a year, and that is a lot of money for our bank. Nevertheless, Tinkoff Bank is the biggest online bank in the world, with five million clients, but we still don’t make enough money to support the team. The problem of the sport is that there is no sustainable model; there is not any other income. So of course I have to leave.”
Days later, it appears that Dostoyevsky-esque struggle is still going on.