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Tinkov: Criticism of Contador on Twitter went too far

MILAN (VN) — Oleg Tinkov, the new team owner of Tinkoff-Saxo, made amends with star rider Alberto Contador over his Twitter comments. The Russian said that he was just trying to provoke Contador by writing that he was overpaid, not professional enough, and lacked desire.

“He had some issues but of course, he understands that it was just a provocation,” Tinkov told VeloNews. “I’m passionate about this sport and sometimes, I was just maybe a little bit over [board] but it’s not a big deal.”

Tinkov created a stir on his Twitter account, @olegtinkov, when he wrote about Contador’s Tour de France performance over the summer. Contador, a two-time winner of the race, placed fourth behind Chris Froome (Sky) this year. In terms of wins, it was his worst season since his debut year in 2003. He won once, a stage in the Tour de San Luis in Argentina.

A day after the Tour, July 22, Tinkov took to Twitter: “Conta performance wasn’t good. He need to change many things in his preparation and be more PRO. Will he do that? That’s the question…

“His salary doesn’t match his performance. Too rich and isn’t hungry, that’s my opinion, and I deserve it. He must work harder”

Tinkov told VeloNews that he “considered” pulling his sponsorship, an estimated 6 million euros, for the 2014 season and that he shopped for other teams. Instead, he said that he “simply bought the team.”

At a press conference last week in London, Tinkov announced that he purchased the Danish, first division team from 1997 Tour winner Bjarne Riis. He hired Riis to manage the team.

“Now the team is going to be called Tinkoff Credit Systems-Saxo. Tinkoff Credit Systems, the full name, is going to be back on the jersey,” added Tinkov. “The jersey will be dominated by yellow.”

Tinkov said that he and Riis made no deal about what he is able to write on Twitter. At the press conference, Contador explained that he dismissed the comments.

“Whatever happened immediately after the Tour,” Contador said, “is long behind us.”

“I don’t know if Alberto understands it or not. I haven’t discussed it with him. I don’t think he’s looking at social media so much,” Tinkov told VeloNews. “We have no issues, as you saw at the London press conference.”

Tinkov said the pair had time to talk about the upcoming season and the new ownership while riding together for three days in Spain. He explained that he has full faith in the 31-year-old from Madrid’s outskirts.

“Alberto is the only rider capable of beating Chris Froome,” Tinkov said.