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Former team owner Oleg Tinkov joins growing chorus of oligarchs turning against Putin

The Russian entrepreneur made headlines as the flamboyant owner that hired Peter Sagan and Alberto Contador.

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Former WorldTour cycling team owner Oleg Tinkov is among a growing chorus of Russian oligarchs who are raising their voices against Russian president Vladimir Putin and the worsening war in Ukraine.

Tinkov, 54, made headlines when he owned the Tinkoff Bank cycling team from 2012-16, where such stars as Peter Sagan and Alberto Contador once raced.

On Monday, Tinkov posted a message on Instagram criticizing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“In Ukraine, innocent people are dying every day,” Tinkov wrote. “This is unthinkable and unacceptable. [Governments] should spend money on treating people, on research to defeat cancer, and not on war. We are against this war!”

Also read: UCI takes action in wake of Ukraine invasion

The comments are significant in that Tinkov is among several high-profile Russian businessmen and so-called oligarchs who are speaking out and publicly criticizing Putin’s war. Other Russian billionaires, including Mikhail Fridman, Oleg Deripaska, and Evgeny Lebedev, have commented in recent days.

Tinkov posted a photograph of himself with his family, wrote about his own health struggles with cancer, and voiced his opposition to Putin’s aggression toward Ukraine.

“We at the Tinkov Family Foundation save the lives of people with blood cancers,” Tinkov wrote. “We buy equipment, train nurses, and help build transplant centers. I myself, twice almost being on the other side of life over the past two years, I was convinced how fragile life is. And there is only one.” Tinkov added the hashtag, #nowar.

Tinkov made billions during the Putin years, opening brewpubs, restaurants, and a frozen food chain before creating a credit card — and eventually a bank — with backing from Goldman Sachs. When the bank went public in 2013, he was worth an estimated $8 billion and emerged as among Russia’s richest entrepreneurs.

The flamboyant Tinkov later bought out Bjarne Riis in 2012 to own his namesake team in what was his second foray into cycling before eventually leaving the sport in 2016.

Tinkov later ran afoul with the American tax agency and was diagnosed with leukemia. He’s since lost much of his wealth, with Forbes magazine pegging his worth in 2022 at just under $1 billion.

Oleg Tinkov, shown with pink hair, was often in the spotlight during his run in the WorldTour. (Getty Images)