Tyler Hamilton. Francisco Mancebo. Jan Ullrich. All of these "tarnished" professional bicycle riders have signed or are rumored to have signed for Tinkoff Credit Systems, a new continental European cycling team. In doing so, Tinkoff has made a huge splash in the world of European professional cycling - at least from a branding point of view.
Prior to the last four weeks, who had ever heard of Tinkoff Credit Systems or its predecessor, Tinkoff Brewery? The latter describes itself as a "team of young and audacious professionals who evangelize success via cutting-edge business practices." Certainly, Tinkoff has assembled a group of young audacious professionals, and in doing so, have made a name for themselves.
Tinkoff is immediately the "bad guy" of European Cycling. A band of misfits and accused PED users have come together to build an outlaw brand, the stuff of legend. And in so doing, Tinkoff Credit Systems has arisen from obscurity to international prominence, at least among those of us who follow professional cycling.
Hats off to Tinkoff for making things interesting and giving the "bad boys" of European Cycling another chance. Bravo!