Tuesday Shorts

Smearing rider reputations and even mocking Norwegians about the Utøya massacre in now-deleted tweet, Oleg Tinkov’s funny side is matched by a tendency for provocation and shock. He’s made a career out of it.

Could any other team owner get away with this? Should Tinkov get away with it. Tinkov’s made a career from getting away with it whether selling pelmeni or Russian dumplings with adverts featuring bare buttocks, a shocking image in 1990s Russia. When he sold his food business he went into beer and marketed Tinkoff beers with not-safe-for-work ads.

Oleg Tinkov might never miss an opportunity to tell us how rich and succesful he is but he’s probably not as wealthy as he once was. The chart above isn’t a stage profile from the Vuelta, it’s the stock price of Tinkoff Credit Systems, his credit card company that calls itself a bank. Worse, the Russian rouble has fallen significantly in value. However as a billionaire his wealth will be spread around the world, the takeaway is just that he’s less wealthy than before.

From one man with a taste for alcohol to another. The UK Anti-Doping agency (UKAD) released their verdict on Tiernan-Locke and his defence for curious blood values was a large quantity of alcohol had caused severe dehydration. Much has been made of the binge but his defence was really based on the subsequent dehydration which he claimed knocked blood values wildly out of kilter. Only for all the claims of dehydration UKAD didn’t find the argument scientifically plausible and besides, even if he claimed to have had such a hangover and not drinking water for 32 hours he managed a three hour ride with the British team.

Thirsty Britons
Is there something about British cyclists and alcohol? Bradley Wiggins is known for his benders and when the Financial Times took David Millar out for lunch he racked up a bill only beaten by Gore Vidal and the Japanese Prime Minister. Of course it’s not national, Jan Ullrich was famous for his off-season excess, a French senator took to Facebook to deplore Andy Schleck’s state and he and Stuart O’Grady were thrown off the Vuelta once. Back in the days Jacques Anquetil would drink champagne… during a race. There’s a serious point behind it all, the pressure to perform means some feel like letting go when that pressure’s off or it becomes too much.

Kreuziger’s non-expert advice?

Back to Tiernan-Locke’s case for a moment because he relied on the advice of Dr Kingsley Hampton for his “thirsty” hypotheis. The same doctor is part of Roman Kreuziger’s team. The Czech rider’s expedited case to ride the Vuelta is being heard in the next 24 hours. But a hearing over a possible athlete bio-passport violation is due and UKAD’s comments won’t be enjoyable reading for Kreuziger. As the excerpt above illustrates Dr Hampton’s credibility on the subject of the bio-passport gets skewered on page after page.

Patrick Lefevere

No more OPQS youth team?
Speaking to Het Nieuwsblad OPQS boss Patrick Lefevere (pictured left) says he’s going to stop spending money on a youth team after seeing several riders from the EFC Omega Pharma-Quick-Step join Van De Wouwer’s Lotto-Belisol youth team. Not to be confused with the Etixx cycling team, EFC is a more local, junior Belgian team.

Rider development is a recurring problem in the sport for as soon as anyone gets anyone good it’s open season their recruitment, a junior or U-23 does not belong to any team. Of course it works both ways with Lefevere signing riders from other teams.

Trick Question

What’s hillier, the Tour de France’s Stage 14 from Grenoble to Risoul via the Lautaret and Izoard and the ski-station summit finish at Risoul or Stage 1 of the Tour du Limousin?

Today’s stage of the Tour du Limousin has a reported vertical gain of 3,600 metres, over 10% more than the Alpine festival depicted above according to the Limousin roadbook. The region is hilly but not mountainous and tracing the route over mapping software it’s more like 2,800m. Plenty but not quite as wild as claimed.

Back to alcohol again but staying in the Limousin because the stage race will have an intermediate sprint right outside Le Jadis, the old bar where Antoine Blondin used to drink. Blondin was a playright who covered the Tour de France for L’Equipe from the 1954-1982 and wrote some of the best prose about cycling despite, or because, he was drunk for a lot of the time. He’s one of the very few to mix literature with cycle racing. A Parisian – he’s buried in Paris’s Père-Lachaise cemetery – somehow he ended up living in the countryside and this week’s race will pay a quick tribure. A complex character he deserves more explanation, maybe more this week.

Caps Update
Talking of more soon, new caps are coming. There will be the option for a large one and also for a white one too. If you want and if you can, you can sign up online with Prendas as this helps them measure the demand – they promise it’s just to see how many people might be interested, it’s neither a pledge to buy from you nor are they harvesting your email address for marketing. Thanks for all the support so far.

77 thoughts on “Tuesday Shorts”

  1. I think the Tinkoff tweets are beyond the pale, particularly in light of speculation reported as recently as today that Tinkoff and EBH are possibly still engaged in negotiations. This goes a lot farther afield from his tweaking of Contador last season. Sexist, too, on top of the other obvious poor form. Not that I trust the UCI to handle matters, but there is a code of conduct, no? It is obviously not uncommon for owners/ DS’s and riders to snipe at each other through the media during testy negotiations, but this is unacceptable. My earlier assertion that we simply need the money in the sport is looking more ill-advised every time Mr. Tinkoff reaches for his mobile phone. Welcome to the fold, Ivan Basso…

    • Tinkoff is a clever business-man, I’m sure he knows exactly what he is doing. I wonder if the recent tweets about Norwegians are part of his negotiation strategy for EBH? Perhaps he’s giving a not-subtle messge that if EBH’s agent continues to insist on certain terms (whatever they may be) then Tinkoff isn’t interested. I think that’s not wrong to say this in public, even if he does say it in a very crude way.

      • I’ve just now seen the Tinkoff tweet about the Norwegian massacre – that’s going far beyond what is ok!!! its totally wrong to say that in any context, I take back what I said. (I had only seen the first tweet about Norwegian music).

        Not trying to be a troll. Sorry!

        • Oleg could very well be travelling the road Donald Sterling found himself on. (Sterling owns the L.A. Clippers an NBA franchise)

          Don’t know what it is about uber wealth that leads these billionaires to believe they don’t have to edit their thought process before opening their mouths.

          • Extreme wealth can give a strong feeling of invincibility, and of not having to be constrained by precepts by which others live their lives or by what society considers acceptable/unacceptable.

            It ain’t attractive.

      • Too often and too lazily people suggest someone is clever simply because they are rich, well they must be right, they’re rich?

        Risky behaviour, coupled with lucking in to an economy changing rapidly, then attracting opportunities from others, does not equal brains. Being rich and successful to hire people with brains does not make you clever either. Resourceful, canny, maybe, in the same way an animal learns to survive but can never split the atom.

        That’s like saying a footballer is a genius because he plays well.

    • yeah, well a beer after a stage is one thing. Going out on a massive one 60-odd hours before your 1st senior World Champs – not to mention that fact that you’re going to be leader and have 2 TdF winners and Cav in the team riding for you), well, that’s a whole different level.

  2. Yay bigger caps! I don’t have a big head (compared to my friends), so was surprised how tight the cap was when I got it. Don’t get me wrong I’m still very happy to have it, but I will probably order a larger one (or two).

    • In defense of Mr Tinkoff it should perhaps be noted that the Utøya tweet did not come completely unprovoked. A Norwegian tweeter slang the first handful of mud by a rather stupid and, in the end, a racist “Russians this, Russians that” type of comment. Tinkoff apparently wanted to make a sharp and witty comeback, but since no one (except the Swedes and the Finns) cares about or knows much about the Norwegians, all he could come up was that cheap and tasteless retort.

      PS Most of us can turn out to be quite insensitive and idiotic about other people’s misery and suffering. I know I one made a quip about North Korea which I regretted immediately after understanding that I was talking to someone for whom it was not about some faraway and abstract people but practically about his family.

    • I’d have a 1 hour delay with the option of not publishing on my tweeter app. or a pass-lock that takes more than a minute to unlock if I was Tinkoff. The measure at least would have some effect of cooling him down from the urge.

  3. I got two caps. I am very pleased to have them and support the blog. I don’t always agree with you, but I still think your being here is superb. It is a pleasure to have helped in any way I can.

  4. Bear in mind Dr. Hampton will have been paid to come up with the most plausible possible non-doping explanation for a bio-passport profile. He can’t necessarily help it if that explanation still isn’t very plausible. 😉

    • True, there seems to be a willing supply of expert advice. But note UKAD’s panel said Dr Hampton “does not have the depth of experience or expertise in the field of blood doping”, so if he’s an expert, the subject of Kreuziger’s passport could be beyond his specialism.

      • On the other hand Kreuzinger’s case will be judged by CADC, which is one of the few organisations that don’t publish case reports on the site (or anyplace else).

      • I pointed out at the time that I couldn’t see how Hampton expertise (which is in thromboses) could in any way be relevant to the analysis of biological passports. Glad UKAD read my post 🙂

      • There might be something to that, on the other hand it’s an appeal to authority, which I generally find to be a very poor form of argument (indeed, a form that rings alarm bells for me about the side making it). 😉

        Ultimately, it is not the credibility of the experts making the case that is supposed to sway the panel, but the science and peer-reviewed literature that their argument rests on. Dr. Hampton can surely trawl the literature are well as anyone, and as his career has been in haematology I’d strongly suspect he’d already know where to look to find results on the effects of blood transfusions and erythropoietin on the blood, as well as having just as good an understanding of the blood as any sports scientist or haematologist specialising in sport.

        • To be clear, evaluating an argument by authority is often the only option in many cases. The vast majority of us are not experts in the vast majority of things, even if we are an expert in something. In which case, we may have to fall back to authority as a proxy as our only option, unsatisfactory as that is.

          In this case though, it seems the tribunal panel were supposed to have been constituted so as to have sufficient scientific expertise to be able to evaluate the arguments directly, based on the presented literature. So, little bit disconcerting to have the panel itself raise authority as a factor.

    • Good point! I think they call these people megalomaniacs. Gawd help all those who have to answer to this nutjob! Is he not enough of a crony of Putin to come under the sanctions being imposed due to the Ukraine mess?
      I’m happy CAS tossed out J-T-L’s “dog ate my homework” excuse, otherwise the bio-passport becomes pretty useless. Roman K. better find another “doctor” quickly I think.

    • For me Tinkov is one of the biggest a*#holes around and I can’t wait for him to encounter what any a*#hole of this size deserves to encounter but everytime someone writes an article about his twitter activities or about the other shit he utters they do exactly what he wants to provoke.

      It’s of course only my personal opinion but I would like to see him ignored by your much appreciated blog, dear INRNG.

      • Rest assured I won’t be reacting to his every tweet. Some of it’s amusing, some of it makes you wonder why anyone would enter in to business with him but yesterday’s messages was at least worth mentioning once. Plus the more fundamental point is his business value has cracked.

  5. Excuse me, the Inner Ring, but regarding “reading for Kreuziger” you simply ignore the merit of the verdict on JTL. His values, esp. OFF-score are just crazy, his defense as well, so where is any connection with Roman´s case?

    I have to admit that dr. Hampton doesn´t appear to be real expert in blood doping anymore, of course.

      • Agree with dr. Hampton, I just reacted on that “non enjoyable reading for Kreuziger”. The conclusion of the JTL case is clear and correct, but not applicable on Roman´s case. I don´t understand why Mr. Cookson mentioned JTL and SKY in the connection with Roman and his suspension at all. Simply, that is not fair from the president of the UCI to compare such champ with Roman.

        • Well don’t worry; the arbitration won’t be taking into account what the UCI president thinks or doesn’t. The issue for Kreuziger though is that even if it snows a lot or snows a little, snow is snow, so whether JTL was a prat with extreme values it really doesn’t mean anything else in relation to anyone else, Kreuziger included. So JTL had 2 metres of snow outside his window. If someone else has 30cm of snow, I’m afraid it is still not good and isn’t a worthy defence.

    • The connection with Roman’s case is that both hired the same “expert” for the same reason, cited above by Paul Jakma: “to come up with the most plausible possible non-doping explanation for a bio-passport profile.” If Tinkoff is supporting Kreuziger in his appeal to ride the Vuelta, I’d say he has chosen the wrong side in that particular conflict of interests. He wants to support his rider, but his rider wants to snooker the dope-testing process. At least Tinkoff’s slander of EBH implies support for the Bio Passport system; his support for Kreuziger might suggest the opposite.

        • The point wasn’t being made that Roman Kreuziger wouldn’t like the verdict. The verdict doesn’t affect him, and he can make what he likes of it. What he probably won’t enjoy reading, though, are sentences like “[Hampton] does not have the depth of experience or expertise in the field of blood doping possessed by the experts deployed against him”. Those are the comments INRNG was referring to.

        • Resistance IS futile, in the sense that Roman Kreuziger has been caught doping and it is too late to do anything about it. The choices are to accept the finding and a ban, or provide a scientifically valid explanation for that BP data that does not involve cheating. Or lie, and build a legal case around that lie. We know that when pro cyclists get caught doping, almost always choose this last option. But we can always hope that once in awhile someone will choose the option of self respect and the good of the sport.

          • No, Roman has NOT been caught doping. There is hypothesis that the sequence of his values all within range assumed as normal according to the Adaptive Model is abnormal, possibly caused by doping. Do you understand the difference between that?

            How many riders with comparable values “within range” were/is/will be reviewed in detail as Roman? Look at dr. Parisotto statements regarding Horner´s values during last Vuelta. And what about Hesjedal and his exceptional third week in Giro 2012? I know, he has already been confessed doper riding for Garmin, so he must be clear now, but anyway.

            Nothing against Chris and Ryder, I just try to demonstrate the main problem I have with Roman´s case – the selectivity of the approach to him. Mathematically, there is no problem re-establish the Adaptive Model for all riders according to the “sensitivity” applied on Roman´s values. Then, I will stop my lamentation and keep calm waiting for ALL results.

          • Values in Kreuziger biopass are in his normal according to the Adaptive Model and there is no advantages.

            Pellizotti, Valjavec and JTL had abnormal values out of range their Adaptive Model and advantages against others in peloton.

        • For professional reasons the panel were very kind to Dr. Hampton. He would have struggled to convince the assessor in a 3rd year viva voce with his arguments. If he hasn’t conducted a much more professional analyses for Kreuziger, then the result is likely to be the same even if the there is potentially a level of doubt.

          • No one could save JTL with his extreme values and that is right. “Poor” dr. Hampton is not the only one who gave his opinion in Roman´s case.

            In JTL´s case there was no problem with shifting the burden of proof to him, it was simply up to him to explain such extreme OFF-score values. In Roman´s case is the burden of proof primarily placed on UCI. There is no assumption of anomalies according to the Adaptive Model, so there is something to be explained and proved from the UCI panel experts first.

  6. Well, it’s only a smear of EBH if it’s untrue. I don’t think cycling needs more owners who are willing to ignore or even stay quiet about questionable values.

  7. Tinkoff is indeed a wingnut, and the fact he is Russian should not in anyway play into our distaste for him and his boyish games.
    He does like bike racing you have to give him that, and puts his $$ where his mouth is and spends it.

  8. Regarding the thirsty Britons, I think it’s not so much British cyclists as British people in general. We have a rather poor drinking culture over here, and I’m not sure the behaviour of those you mention is really out of the ordinary…

  9. I for one enjoy oleg’s tweets. He provides a great contrast to the super serious sky although granted they are often of questionable taste. He’s building a cracking team and his riders liven up the racing.

  10. Others with that much money and still others with political power who tweet are very good at gift wrapping what Oleg does not. It should be obvious that does not mean I agree with Oleg. I just rather have the objectionable talk be very direct as Oleg does it. The other misleads readers.

    Innrg, you should consider committing some words to the Lawyers in CAS. It’s a fascinating, if mostly closed, system where a CAS panel member in one arbitration is a lawyer representing the sports federation in another.

    • More on CAS. They have experts they like. Those experts, again, will work for athletes on one case, and a federation on the same topic at the same time, but not both sides of the CAS case.

      Whatever assistance JTL got was done outside the CAS/IOC fraternity and the panel made that clear.

    • The beer never lived up to the ads but the brewpubs were very trendy for a while. Inbev bought the brand and stopped manufacturing it (although my local supermarket had some recently!). The chain of brewpubs was sold for USD1!

  11. Excellent news concerning Kreuziger’s provisional suspension. It is always refreshing to see common sense prevail. Tinkof should never have pushed for a return to competition, until such time as the matter is fully resolved. If once again this case is taking time, Kreuziger has only himself to blame. More money donated to ‘worthy causes’ by wealthy riders and their backers and the sport dragged through the courts !

    • Another excellent information is that UCI was pushed into finishing the Roman´s case on their level and hand it over to the Czech federation with all documentation. Czech federation has already announced that they received it and the decision is expected within one month. Under such circumstances seems to me provisional suspension logical and appropriate. Roman speed it up nicely, nothing to blame himself.

  12. Something different: could the case against Kolobnev/Vinokurov have consequences for Astana? I have no idea if Astana is connected to the kazak federation. But surely the UCI will follow up with their own investigation not only against the two riders, but against the ones who paid?

      • As an observation: I think this is a politically motivated move. There is a lot of concern everywhere that Vinokurov is so visible in the sport and now he has a TdF-winner and everything that comes with that.

    • Considering these rumors/allegations have been floating around forever, I really don’t get why someone has suddenly decided to open an investigation now, four years after the supposed incident. Did new evidence suddenly appear from out of nowhere?

      As for race fixing being a part of cycling culture, surely that is only on the level of say gifting a stage win in return for help gaining time on GC rivals and similar alliances? Actual cash transactions in return for victory has got to be frowned up even inside the peloton…

  13. Re JTL feel disappointed as I enjoyed watching him race in 2012 and he is a Devon lad; but reading the report his defence looks weak. I wonder why he would continue to deny, would it not be ‘easier’ to confess and do a ‘Millar’?


    Re the doctor acting for JTL, he does risk his professional standing and ultimately his livelihood if proven to be grossly deficient, but he does look out of his depth in this company.

    Anyone else spot the fine of 70% of JTL salary for 2012 £15400, meant he was earning £22000, surprised he could afford either a drink or a trip to the pharmacy!

  14. For all I know, Millar may well be a big drinker, but not on the evidence of the FT story, which makes clear it was a ‘two-hour, two-bottle lunch.’ I think the large bill is due more to the pricing than the quantity of drink consumed. The price range per bottle on the recent wine list is 40-70 quid. A couple of those and a few courses would explain the demanding tab. http://www.scotts-restaurant.com/wine-list/

  15. I’m a bit late coming to this, but there’s an interesting angle to the JTL judgment which I don’t think others have picked up, namely that he was convicted on the basis of his first ever ABP blood test without any prior baseline data. Even Dr Hampton had to accept that that result was “wildly abnormal” and meant doping unless there was an alternative explanation. Silly boy…

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