“Woo, yeah! I’m getting me a Pontiac Firebird!”
FOR THE GLORY OF OLEG TINKOV
The gentle lapping of the Mediterranean against the mega-yacht eased Oleg Tinkov from his slumber. He awoke with a smile on his face, like he did every morning, despite a particularly foul vodka-induced hangover. Who was it that he’d drunkenly signed for 2015 from international waters that previous night? A… Andrea Guardini? Adam Blythe? Those shoes of his were nice. Or was it Cadel Evans? He really hoped not: that was what Bjarne had told him specifically not to do. Oh well, it’d come back later.
He slipped on his sabretooth-tiger slippers and padded down to the boat’s breakfast room. Suki the Persian cat, her coat whiter than Oleg’s face when learning of Roman Kreuziger’s biological passport case, slipped onto his lap and looked up imploringly.
Before he could pet his beloved, the phone rang. It was Rafal Majka’s agent, reminding Oleg of their agreement of a classic car for winning the Tour of Poland. This elaborate bonus system of iconic automobiles in exchange for WorldTour success was really starting to backfire: Michael Rogers had already taken his 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. Oh well, he could just throw a Pontiac Firebird the Pole’s way.
Now, that Peter Sagan to Alonso team wheeze had got everyone going. But what could he do to shake up the Twittersphere today? Bingo. “Bradley Wiggins and me discuss deal for Tinkoff in exchange for Fender Stradercaster [sic] and VIP Paul Weller tickets,” he tapped away.
Ten minutes later, the mobile buzzed again. It was Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford, begging him to not sign Bradley.
“Dave, relax, I don’t want Wiggins, I’m just pulling your O-leg. Seriously, those haircuts of his won’t go down in this cycling team let alone the Siberian army. Besides, I can’t abide having a fan of The Jam on Tinkoff-Saxo: everyone knows Purple Hearts were much better.”
“Well, that’s a relief,” Dave said. “By the way, I’ve been asking around: do you want Edvald Boasson Hagen for next year? Fifth of the old price, bargain.”
Oleg politely declined: even he’d passed the Norwegian on a climb the other day. Besides, Brailsford was going to explode when he realised that Chris Froome was joining the good ship Tinkoff.
Well, he thought, what is the point of being rich if you can’t have a cycling team as a toy and fill it with really, really good cyclists? Tinkoff-Saxo were going to be the first professional cycling squad to buy and field the first nine riders in the WorldTour ranking. They’d crush the opposition. But not for the glory of Russia, like Katusha. Niet, all wrong. Doing it for the glory of Oleg and his number one credit systems company: that’s more like it.
Oleg glanced at his expensive watch. Eleven-thirty. Enough time to pop onto shore for a 30km ride along the Riviera, then go on social media and tell everyone it was 150km through the mountains.
After returning and polishing off some caviar for lunch, he was at a loose end. Messing with dweebs on Twitter was getting dull, but the ENECO Tour wasn’t on the telly for another hour. The big man would have to do some work.
He reluctantly settled down in his man cave, decorated with bear-skin hides, empty vodka jeroboams and 6ft posters of his own face. But ten minutes of stock analysis and credit system crunching was sending him to sleep.
Work or ENECO Tour? Work… or ENECO Tour? A no brainer. But he wasn’t just going to watch the thing.
“Sergei, we leave port in twenty minutes,” he told the yacht captain. “If you step on it, we can zip through the Bay of Biscay and make it to Nieuwpoort in time for that tasty stage up the Muur.”
STAT’S THE WAY, UH HUH, UH HUH
4 – Number of Omega Pharma-Quick-Step riders in the top four in yesterday’s Tour de l’Ain prologue.
Muur, muur, muur: how do you like it? Very much, thanks ENECO Tour.
Were you one of the thousands of stupid people?
The great Vuelta a Colombia is at the halfway point. Here’s fine monochrome footage from the first edition in 1951 (Spanish).