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Commentary: Why Tinkov and Contador ended badly

Tinkoff Pro Cycling team owner/outdoor shower enthusiast Oleg Tinov has spent the better part of 2016 bidding adieu to pro cycling in his own special way. As you’ve probably seen, Tinkov’s long, sweet goodbye has been akin to farting in a dinner party and then bolting out the door.

Tinkov has engaged in ridiculous Twitter beefs, thrown out half-hearted solutions to cycling’s various problems, as if they were super-obvious things nobody had ever envisioned (just put the Tour de France on pay-per-view!), and basically talked crap about everyone who has ever pulled on a chamois.

But until today, one man had escaped Tinkov’s ire: Alberto Contador.

Alas, no more! In a Cyclingnews.com column titled “Oleg Tinkov: The final interview,” Tinkov really gives Contador the business. While Cyclingnews asks Tinkov just one actual question about his grand tour champion, the Russian goes out of his way to twist the knife in ol’ Bertie’s back again and again.

There are plenty of gems. Tinkov calls Contador a “sad person” because he “never really wants to drink champagne and is always careful about what he eats because he’s focused on winning the Tour de France.”

But the real meat of Tinkov’s vitriol is below.

From the Cyclingnews interview.

“To be honest I have a much worse relationship with Contador but the media have never really picked up on it. In fact I don’t have a relationship with him. I respect him as a rider for his past but as a person he’s never really appealed to me. I don’t like him. Even in the team, most of the riders don’t like him. He ended up having a bad relation with almost everyone, apart from his little Spanish group.

I think Trek manager Luca Guercilena has to be careful. He signed them as a group but I think this group will create a lot of mess at Trek. I want to warn Guercilena about that. It was difficult for anyone to do that to me because I’m strong and have big balls but I’m sure they’ll do a mess at Trek.

Personally I think Alberto should stop riding because he’s not as strong anymore. I stopped owning the team at the right moment, at the top. He’s a great champion and so should stop now. I think he’s going to be like a limping duck. He’s going to look stupid. At the Vuelta he was dropped by the best four or five riders, next year it will be by the best 20 riders. I don’t think he’s ever going to win another Grand Tour. He should forget about it and quit.”

Man, Tinkov sounds steamed, right? Shockeroo! He’s like a smack talk artist, painting an intricate word fresco of Bertie-fueled vitriol.

The real question is what the hell did Contador do to unleash Tinkov’s devastating blog rant? As recently as this June, Tinkov was bragging that Contador was going to kick Chris Froome’s keister. And before this column, Tinkov has had nothing but love for Contador, instead saving his ribbing for Peter Sagan.

We here in the VeloNews office came up with a handful of speculative explanations for the souring of the Tinkov/Contador marriage. So what did Bertie do?

10. Opened a checking account with Tinkoff Credit Systems, never put in more than the minimum 35 Rubles

9. Filled Tinkov’s outdoor shower with Cytomax, called it the “Sticky Russian”

8. Was the man behind anti-Tinkov Twitter troll @MonsieurCanard

7. Overheard saying the team’s camo kits were “kinda redneck-y”

6. Sent Tinkov a congratulatory box of Spanish steaks… that weren’t packed full of Clenbuterol

5. Spent a weekend at La Datcha, stole two robes and a bunch of shampoo bottles, gave three-star review on TripAdvisor

4. Told Tinkov that pink hair is “muy estupido”

3. Said hola to Jonathan Vaughters that one time

2. Didn’t race the tour of Lombardy due to sniffles

1. Never won Le Tour in a Tinkoff kit