Russian entrepreneur Oleg Tinkov will sell his pro team and Tinkoff Bank will no longer support pro cycling via sponsorship after 2016.
Tinkov put his hand into cycling in 2006, sponsoring a Russian cycling team under the name Tinkoff restaurants. He bought the team Tinkoff-Saxo (then Saxo-Tinkoff) in 2013 for a reported six million euros.
The businessman is known for questioning the convention of the cycling industry - not something we take any issue with. However, we did take issue with his comments this summer that "women's cycling needs to be forgotten" and that "feminism is abusing".
The comments were made after Tinkov 'insulted' Chris Froome for 'riding like a girl'. Discovering Froome had suffered a broken ankle, he later apologised to the two time Tour de France victor for the offence but not to the female population for calling our entire sex pathetic.
Speaking exclusively to Cycling News, Tinkov said the reasons behind backing away from sponsoring cycling were two fold - logically, the bank had fulfilled it's marketing role. Secondly, he felt unsupported in his fight to change the sport.
He said: "I refuse to use any of my personal wealth going forward... I’ve realised nobody wants to work with me to help change the business model of the sport. In the last two or three years I’ve tried to fight with ASO and the UCI, I’ve tried to find new revenue streams via TV rights, merchandise sales and tickets sales but nobody really supported me and wanted to take a strong stand with me.
"I’d tried to save the managers, riders and staff from themselves by trying to get everyone together, to change the revenue sources and improve things for everyone. It would make the sport more sustainable.
“But if nobody else cares about the future of the sport, then why should I care? F*ck all of them! That’s my personal reason why I want to leave professional cycling. From January 2017, I’m gone. I’m out of cycling. I’ll jump on my jet, fly home and focus on my business interests and enjoying my life. Everyone who is left in cycling will be the ones who will be in the sh*t. They will have to try to survive year by year, trying to convince sponsors to back a sport that isn’t sustainable."
Cycling News report that Team CEO Stefano Feltrin is working to find new sponsorship and a new owner for the team and that they hope to obtain a new three year WorldTour licence for 2017 to 2020.
We hope they are able to find a sponsor with ease - but can't help but wave Oleg a fairly cheery goodbye.