• Rafal Majka is in a good position to give Tinkoff-Saxo another Grand Tour podium place (Sirotti)Source: Sirotti
After losing Peter Sagan to a similar incident on Stage 8, there was more trouble in store for Tinkoff-Saxo when Sergio Paulinho was struck by a motorcycle during Stage 11 of the Vuelta a España.
3 Sep 2015 - 9:22 AM  UPDATED 3 Sep 2015 - 9:31 AM

Tinkoff Saxo has escalated its battle with Vuelta a España organisers after Sergio Paulinho joined Peter Sagan on the sidelines after he too was struck down by a TV motorcycle during Stage 11 action.

Prior to the stage the team demanded compensation from Vuelta organisers Unipublic, for the accident involving Sagan and a Shimano neutral service motorcycle during Stage 8.

A statement by the team said the impact caused Sagan "severe injuries" and damaged "a rider on which the team's success in the Vuelta depended in large part."

The team asked race organizer Unipublic for a public apology and a sum "equal to the value of the prize" for a stage victory to be paid to a charity of Tinkoff-Saxo and Sagan's choice.

It said it wanted "proper indemnification" because the race organizer "has accountability for the safety of its event."

Tinkoff-Saxo also called on the UCI to revoke the 300 Swiss Franc fine it had imposed on Sagan for "behavior that damages the image of cycling."

But the temprature has now been raised to another level after this latest incident with the team asking if the organizers of the Vuelta could guarantee a safe race amid threats to abandon the event entirely.

Paulinho was taken to hospital in Andorra where six internal stitches were needed to close an artery that was affected by the crash and will undergo further medical examinations.

Tinkoff-Saxo said it will now consider whether it is safe to continue racing "under the current arrangements" and asked its Twitter fans if it should abandon the race.

Of course Oleg Tinkov also weighed in on Twitter with threats to remove his team from the race.

We've seen this before by Tinkov at the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and now Vuelta but none of it ever amounts to anything. Tinkov is all bark and no bite in his repeated battles with race organisers.

While he has a strong case to pull his team from the race its highly unlikely he will now that Rafal Majka is in fourth place overall and well positioned to land a spot on the final Vuelta podium. Expect to see him line up for Stage 12.

Asking the fans for an opinion only reinforces that it's nothing but a hollow threat. It reads like just another social media engagement ploy. A team owner with real power and influence would just do it. 

His credibility, such as it is, is on the line after this escalation. And so is his ownership. Do nothing and everyone will regard him as a running joke. Do something and he runs the risk of losing everything he has bought with his considerable wealth.

Should Tinkoff-Saxo pull out of the Vuelta
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