Back Stories

There’s plenty of racing on at the moment, Friday will see five different international pro races happening plus the Tour de l’Avenir starts. Rider transfers announcements make the news too at the moment too. But what if the biggest stories were behind the scenes?

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The MPCC Exodus


Katusha have quit the MPCC grouping of teams, following Orica-Greendge’s departure too. Teams rushed to join this group when they needed the political cover and most bail the moment they have to uphold its strict rules.

The exodus is a blow to the group but at the same time the MPCC’s work is almost done as most of the ideas it promoted have now been adopted by the UCI and the ones that aren’t yet are under review.

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Katusha Ride On

Luca Paolini

The UCI has announced that the Katusha team won’t be suspended after all. Despite two notifications it has decided to apply a proportionate response, judging that Luca Paolini’s cocaine use was “social” and therefore it could be set aside for anti-doping.

It’s debatable how the UCI got here under its own rules but it could be the right move given the UCI’s rule on team suspensions isn’t part of WADA’s Code so this collective punishment could fall over if put under legal pressure. Not that the team’s worries are over, if they remain members of the MPCC then they could still be sitting out some World Tour races soon.

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Which Races Will Katusha Miss?

майка Катюша

Last Friday the UCI announced that Katusha’s Eduard Vorganov had been notified of A-sample finding of a banned substance called Meldonium. Katusha now face a suspension from racing of 15-45 days which will undermine their spring classics campaign and their membership of the self-regulatory group the MPCC means they could sit out a second period too.

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Can You Love Katusha?

Alexander Porsev Katusha
Katusha team owner Igor Makarov might be one of the wealthiest men in the world but even he’s said he can’t fund the team forever. He’s helped to bankroll the team with support from Itera, the gas giant he founded in the 1990s, since he bought out Oleg Tinkov in 2008. There’s been open talk for that he’s thinking of stepping back from the team once he’s funded Russian cycling’s journey to Rio. He’s right to question the spending given the team’s best results have come from foreigners and Russian recruits like Denis Galimzyanov and Denis Menchov have been disastrous.

Faced with this the team is setting out to woo fans and improve on the squad’s unloved image.

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Spot the Difference

Look closely at the two screengrabs from La Gazzetta dello Sport and see what’s different. Sure see one is more pink, the font is different and the picture changes. But the headlines about Michele Ferrari and a €30 million web of suspect payments and pro cyclist contracts are the same. So what is the big difference? Time.

The first image is from 2012 and the second is from Thursday. Having read both stories they’re almost the same, only the 2014 version has just a bit more detail on the payments and drops more names. Why has the same story come back again?

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Katusha’s CAS Appeal – How It Won Back Its Licence

Luca Paolini won a stage of the Giro but he and his Katusha team weren’t supposed to ride. The UCI had originally denied Katusha a licence for 2013, only for Katusha to win back their place in the World Tour via an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Now the full ruling from the CAS is available and for the first time we can see the reasons why the UCI wanted to exclude Katusha. It turns out it was on both financial and ethical reasons. We can also see the behind-the-scenes work done by the Katusha team to win back its licence as it attempts to turn around the worst record in World Tour for doping.

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Katusha Chaos


A quick post to examine what’s next for the sport after the Court of Arbitration ruled last Friday that the Russian teams should go back in World Tour.

The ruling might have left the team celebrating their good news but there’s still a smoky veil of uncertainty over what comes next and a headache for the UCI and others. If they are promoted will someone get relegated? And how can a professional sport have promotion and relegation scenarios that get decided during the season by Swiss court hearings?

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Katusha CAS Crash Course

Joaquim Rodriguez Oman

Joaquim Rodriguez won the Queen Stage of the Tour of Oman today but his future and that of his team is being decided this week. The latest is that Switzerland’s Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will announce its verdict on the Katusha team tomorrow morning. The Russian team was surprisingly ejected at the eleventh hour from the UCI World Tour with little explanation given.

The shocked team appealed the decision. What can we expect from this verdict? It seems the team has the odds against them but if they do win it could turn undermine the very concept of the World Tour. Here’s a look at the likely scenarios, the rules and more.

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Will Joaquim Rodriguez Stay or Go?

Joaquim Rodriguez new team

…and where could he go?

With the Katusha team struggling for a licence Joaquim Rodriguez and his agent Angel Edo have been shopping around for a new team. Rodriguez agreed new terms with the Russian team at the end of last season but these were based on the premise of riding in World Tour. He has stated his prime target for 2013 is the Tour de France.

Rider contracts are like collarbones, they’re easily broken in the right circumstances. And Katusha not being a registered UCI team can mean a clean break clause. So will Rodriguez go and if so, where can he land?

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