Russian Tinkoff-Saxo owner wants to reduce Sagan's hefty wages after a poor showing in the Classics and early season races

Tinkoff-Saxo team owner, Oleg Tinkov says he wants to cut Peter Sagan’s salary after a disappointing spring campaign this season.

The Slovak had been expected to bring in the results in the Classics given his history, but since signing with Tinkoff-Saxo over the winter, he struggled. He is only coming around now with stage wins and the overall in the Tour of California.

“The problem in cycling is that it’s not easy to cut someone’s salary, we have a contract,” Tinkov told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper on Sunday.

“When the cyclists win, they want more money, but we don’t see the reverse of that. If I find some legal way, I want to reduce his pay, but we have to work on it. I think riders should have raises with good results and cuts if they don’t, you don’t sign a three-year deal and then don’t bring in results.

Sagan signed for an estimated €4m (£2.90m) a year over three years this winter.

Given his previous results in the Classics and Tour de France, he may have been worth it. He won the E3 Harelbeke in 2014 and Ghent-Wevelgem in 2013 while he stopped just shy of a major monument win with second place in both Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders in 2013.

The 25-year-old counts wins and the accompanying points jersey in almost every stage race he’s taken part in. In the Tour de France, he has four stage wins and three green jerseys.

Peter Sagan wins stage four of the 2015 Amgen Tour of California

Peter Sagan wins stage four of the 2015 Amgen Tour of California

The 2015 season, however has thus far been fairly dry. He only scored his first win in Tirreno-Adriatico, nine months since his last. In the Classics, he was good, but not what experts had expected of ‘The Saganator’.

>>> Peter Sagan: In Slovakia, my private life is nonexistent

Tinkov explained that he expects results from January to October.

“There are the Classics, the other WorldTour races, races in Australia, the Middle East…For this reason, we brought on Sagan and built a part of the team around him, but we didn’t get on the podium. I can’t be happy with that,” Tinkov added.

“I’m not going to kill him, we are talking about sport and there aren’t guarantees. It’s clear that money’s not everything. I’ll tell you, if we win the Giro, the Tour and the Vuelta, I’d believe that it’s still not enough for a team with a budget like ours.

“We don’t only need to win the Grand Tours, but many other races in the world. It’s a bit of transition after [Bjarne] Riis, who didn’t have a plan B in the Classics, only plan Sagan.”

Tinkov fired team founder and team manager, Bjarne Riis this spring during the Classics. The reason still remains vague, but the next day, Tinkov lampooned the Danish 1996 Tour de France winner for living in the dark ages of cycling.

This month, the results began to come thanks to Sagan in California and Alberto Contador in the Giro d’Italia. Contador leads the race after one week, but it is clear that Tinkov wants more from his team and is putting pressure on them to deliver.

  • Roly Rodriguez

    I am disappointed in this statement, Tinkov is definitely not a motivational speaker by any means. It’s not just about winning races but marketing as well, why would you commit to the big salary in the first place when you have one of the best riders of all time on your team? I would recommend less talking and more paying.

  • LarryLem

    haha, Tinkoff thought he was automatically buying wins by putting top cyclists under contract ignoring that other teams had top cyclists as well.

  • Attention2Detail

    Reading this nut job’s interview, and now knowing that he was in the team car at the Giro, I know why Tinkoff-Saxo was doing so much unnecessary work. That work will come back to haunt the team in the final week when Alberto will need them the most. This Oleg guy is clueless. Did he see what Sagan did on Mt. Baldy? Nothing but pure heart on that climb for Sagan.

  • tourdetweets

    Oleg needs to get out of cycling and open a casino in Vegas. That’s the only way he can accomplish the house odds that he is demanding… well, unless his riders start messing with the dark pharmaceutical arts of past generations.

  • Saakal

    Pressure is where dark things tend to start häppening!

  • Vance Harvey

    What I find astounding, is that as an obviously very sophisticated business man OT and his company do not have clauses in the riders contracts allowing for poor performance, illness and other potential issues, so all occasions are covered for, and both the riders and the company know exactly what to expect/do if a rider has a period of poor performance.
    One can’t see many other teams behaving in such a cavalier manner towards their star riders. Maybe it’s a Russian thing?

  • Brando

    Cannot believe the arrogance of Tinkov, coming the day after the Cali GC win and especially after the heart and guts shown by Sagan. Agree – take every penny of that contract and run!

  • Henrdry251

    Is this guy for real? I am sure maybe with the exception of team SKY or etixx quick step Peto’s second and fourth places in the classics season would be considered a good return. Just shows tinkoff doesnt understand cycling. Its not like football where you can win everything if you throw enough money at it. Too many variables in each race for a rider to dominate the modern calendar like that

  • John Westwell

    Prepare for a mass exodus of Tinkoff-Saxo riders at the end of the season.

  • dourscot

    What a nutter – Sagan’s worth every penny.

  • Mister Epic

    Oleg is not a cyclist, he is just a rich man period. I don’t think he realized how difficult it is to win a bike race. He could pay big sum of money to good cyclist but he will never be like them.

  • anonymousktvz

    I’d expect Tinkov of all people to understand capitalism… but i forget that zillionaire oligarchs, both over there and over here, don’t get that way without their own fair share of bailouts and welfare…

    Still, I wonder if Oleg Tinkov would be so blase if one of his riders (nay, perhaps another multinational conglomerate?) wanted to break a contract that was lopsided in Tinkov’s favor? Of course not. Oleg wants to selectively apply the rules of the free market and selectively apply the magical thinking that he is always right.

    Sagan had arguably the best and certainly the CLASSIEST win of his career thus far yesterday- does anyone else get the feeling this interview from Tinkov was ready before ATOC and they just were just assuming Peter would have a bad race?… it seems to sort of read contrary to facts now