There was no love lost between Alberto Contador and former Tinkoff owner Oleg Tinkov. The controversial Russian magnate dissed Contador last fall in a few bitter missives, saying Contador “should retire” and later writing on Instagram that Contador is a “shit rider” and should “go on [a] pension to make kids finally.”
In an interview Monday night on Spanish radio, Contador broke his long-running silence on his former boss.
“I haven’t thought about [Tinkov]. To be honest, it was part of my sporting career, and that’s all over now,” Contador told Cadena Ser. “For me it’s nothing more than something in the past, and I am not going to waste energy thinking about it. [Tinkov] is a person who does not engender any type of affection or anything really. He had a lot of money, he bought a team, but he didn’t know how to run it.”
“With these types of things, if it comes from someone with whom I have some affection for it would affect me, but in this case, it doesn’t affect me at all,” Contador continued. “I really don’t need to respond, because I was taught a set of values, and one of them being the respect people have for one another. There are others who may not see it that way, but that’s my take on it.”
Contador had a front-row view of the turmoil within team Tinkoff as it transformed under the weight of Tinkov’s ego. Things went south when Tinkov bought out the racing license from Bjarne Riis, and then later fired the Dane early in the 2015 season.
“The main problem started when I signed my extension in 2014, and then straight away, he fired Riis, the founder of the team and the reason why I signed with them. Right then, I knew everything would change and it did,” Contador said. “There wasn’t a leader of the team who could manage a group of 70 people. You can have a lot of money, but there were qualities that Riis had and [Tinkov] didn’t.”
Tinkov often criticized Contador despite the Spaniard’s solid track record, even criticizing his penchant not to drink champagne during the middle of a major race before it’s concluded. Contador’s dedication to a pauper’s diet rubbed the flamboyant Russian the wrong way, and was just one hint that things were not right between the pair.
“I drink champagne with my friends, not with [Tinkov],” said Contador with a hint of irony. “He didn’t call me to congratulate me on signing the deal.”
Now 34, Contador insists he’s looking ahead to the challenge of winning the Tour de France again.
“I am approaching the Tour with the idea of winning. If you want to win, you have to see it and believe it is something you can win,” he said. “If you see yourself in the top 5, you won’t even be among the top 10. You gain confidence after seeing the power numbers from training … but I wouldn’t even go if it wasn’t to go to win the Tour.”