Nibali dismisses Tinkov’s million-Euro triple crown challenge

Tour de France champion says the strain of three grand tours is too much, and that he and his rivals don't need the money

MILAN (VN) — Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) dismissed Oleg Tinkov’s challenge to race all three grand tours in 2015. The Russian businessman and owner of team Tinkoff-Saxo offered one million Euros ($1,264,750) to split between his rider Alberto Contador, Nibali, Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and Chris Froome (Sky) if they raced all three grand tours in 2015.

“To put down one million euro for the four big grand tour stars is just a way to make yourself look good in front of the others,” Nibali told Italian website Tutto Bici. “The big four riders certainly don’t need his money.”

Tinkov explained at the Giro d’Italia route presentation on Monday that he would offer one million Euros to the four riders if they took the challenge and raced the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, and Vuelta a España, all in 2015. If the four accept, they could let the winner take the total prize or split it four ways, 250,000 Euros each.

Contador would likely accept if the other three said yes since Tinkov pays his wages. The Spaniard from Madrid, who won the Vuelta a España in September, already said that he would race the Giro and Tour in 2015.

Nibali has yet to define his 2015 program. ‘The Shark’ from Sicily said that he wants to return to the Giro d’Italia after winning in 2013, but Astana could have him skip it to focus on defending his title in the biggest race of the season.

“It’s not a question of money, but programming, goals, and a lifestyle choice. Already to prepare for a big race like the Tour requires a lot of self-sacrifice and a lot of work,” Nibali said.

“Cyclists are away from home often. We neglect our family to go race or to train for long periods at camps. Fitting in three grand tours would not be humane, at least for me.”

The managers of Movistar and Sky complimented Tinkov on his idea and explained that they would talk about it with Quintana and Froome, respectively.

Quintana already said that he would skip his Giro title defense in favor of the Tour de France, where he won the young rider classification and placed second overall to Froome in 2013. Froome explained last month in a teleconference that it is “tough” to race multiple grand tours in one year.

“From a performance point of view, it’s quite a serious undertaking,” Sky’s manager, David Brailsford said at the Leaders Sport Business Summit 2014. “But, from a conceptual point of view, I’m sure from a fans’ point of view, from a sporting point of view, I think it’s [Tinkov’s idea] got a lot of merit.”

“I consider it a good idea, respectable, and we [will] think it over,” Team Movistar manager Eusebio Unzué told Spain’s Bici Ciclismo website.

“It would require giving up an important part of the race calendar, to reprogram and change habits. More than physically, it’d be difficult mentally.”

Tinkov explained Friday morning on Facebook that he wants to see the big stars at all three grand tours and to help create bigger interest in cycling, but his challenge will fail if only one, like Nibali, refuses to take it up.