Tinkoff-Saxo owner Oleg Tinkov has continued with his one-man effort to get all of the key Grand Tour contenders to race together in not just one or two of the big races, but all three, adding a $1.4 million incentive for riders to his earlier taunts.
By
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

Ok, maybe not exactly a one-man effort. Giro d'Italia organisers are also trying to position their race in such a way as to make a Giro-Tour double doable, with less overall elevation, fewer high mountain stages and shorter transfers. All of which should make recovery for a later Tour de France tilt much easier.

But that just shows many in the sport are already thinking in that direction, which makes Oleg's million an unnecessary distraction. There are better ways for him to make a lasting impact in cycling than throwing money where it isn't needed.

"If Quintana, Froome, Nibali and Contador all agree to ride all three Grand Tours, I'll get Tinkoff Bank to put up €1 million ($1.4 million AUD). They can have €250,000 ($359,000 AUD) each as an extra incentive. I think it's a good idea," Tinkov told Cyclingnews.

"It's good that Alberto is going for the Giro-Tour double but I think the biggest and best riders should race against each other and ride all three Grand Tours."

No one argues with the idea of making the sport better through the big matchups, in fact that's why the WorldTour exists, to get the top teams all together in the big races on a regular basis. But its always been about the how, not the why, something I've written about before.




But would a rider really put his personal season objectives under threat for that sum? And surely the Grand Tour organisers can't be happy with this outside incentive? Are Sky, Movistar and Astana?

There is also an assumption in Oleg's offer. He gets to decide who the best riders are? What happens if a different cohort of riders win? Wouldn't they then have a right to ask, "where is my money?"

Then there is the idea of the incentive itself and what it does for the sport. The last time we had a big money prize pot for winning a trio of races was in 1993, when Lance Armstrong won the Thrift Drug Triple Crown of Cycling.

History tells how that event went down. Oleg's million could turn out to be an incentive for conduct the sport can happily do without.

But back to the $1.4 million. There is so much more Oleg could do with the money than give another big payday to already well paid riders and cashed up teams.

Rather than a stunt du jour maybe it's time for Oleg to double down in cycling in a real way. Take that million and start a Tinkoff-Saxo women's team. Alternatively I hear there is a sponsorship opportunity going for a women's Tour de France.

Both would do more for his brand image and that of the sport than any disruptive million Euro Grand Tour incentive.