OK, so Oleg Tinkov has made an offer and it's got people talking. Which is probably his main aim, he's like that, never shy of a bit of entertaining nonsense or stirring the pot with ideas from outside the cycling box.
But I'm not so sure it's an offer too good to refuse.
So unless you've not kept an eye on any cycling news media channel over past week, then you'll no doubt have seen news of the challenge.
Here's the cyclingnews.com link:
Tinkov offers a €1 million to Contador and his Grand Tour rivals
In a nutshell, this is Tinkov's offer as quoted in the above article:
"If Quintana, Froome, Nibali and Contador all agree to ride all three Grand Tours, I'll get Tinkoff Bank to put up €1 million. They can have €250,000 each as an extra incentive. I think it's a good idea,"
Personally I just don't see it happening, simply because the risk to a rider's peak performance is too great and the proposed reward too little to compensate for throwing away the prize money and sponsorship attainable from a GT victory, especially a Tour de France victory. I'm just not convinced on the ROI.
Others have written about it and I don't propose at this time to add much to those discussions. For a couple of perspectives, see Inrng's comments about the practicality and marketing, and Science of Sport's take on the (not unsubstantial) physiological consideration:
inrng: Oleg Tinkov’s Indecent Proposal
The Science of Sport: Tinkov’s 3 Grand Tour challenge: Physiological, or folly?
Instead I thought I'd list some fun facts about the history of riders who have completed all three Grand Tours in the same year. Remember that the Vuelta a España only began in 1935, compared with 1909 for the Giro d'Italia and 1903 for the Tour de France. So we about talking about 70 years of all three grand tours, however due to various wars and a calendar gap, in 12 of those years not all three grand tours were contested.
So here are 10 fun facts about riders who have completed all three grand tours in the same year:
Only 32 riders have ever completed all three Grand Tours in a season (the same year).
The completion of all three Grand Tours in same season has only been been done 41 times.
Marino Lejarreta (ESP) did it four times between 1987 and 1991.
Adam Hansen (AUS) has completed 10 consecutive Grand Tours, the most by any individual. The first of this remarkable feat being the 2011 Vuelta and since the last was the 2014 Vuelta, he can extend that record in 2015 if he completes the Giro d'Italia.
Only one rider ever has won a Grand Tour and completed all three Grand Tours in one season. Gastone Nencini (ITA) won the 1957 Giro.
Podiums are rare from riders who complete all three Grand Tours. Including Nencini, only five riders have ever managed that feat.
Others podium finishers who also completed all three Grand Tours in the same year include:
Marzio Bruseghin (ITA) 3rd Giro 2008;
Marino Lejarreta (ITA) 3rd Vuelta 1991;
Bernardo Ruiz (ESP) 3rd Vuelta 1957;
Raphael Geminiani (FRA) 3rd Vuelta 1955
No rider ever has won or placed on podium at the Tour de France and completed all three Grand Tours in the same year.
The nearest to completing that feat was Carlos Sastre (ESP) with 4th place Tour de France 2006.
Only two riders have completed all three Grand Tours in a season and finished top 10 in each: Geminiani in 1955 and Nencini in 1957.