What Next For Katusha?

Joaquim Rodriguez

Katusha had a great end to 2012 with success for much of the Vuelta and Rodriguez’s win in Il Lombardia which crowned him was the World No.1 rider in the UCI rankings whilst the team finished an impressive second overall in the same rankings. Only now the taste of champagne has gone and instead the UCI’s thrown a bucket of ice cold water over the team and its plans for 2013.

Monday’s news that Katusha have been refused a spot in the UCI World Tour for 2013 took everyone by surprise. Even the team management was confused, imagine what riders and sponsors must think? But the Russian team wasn’t dazed for long. Within 24 hours the lawyers were on the case and a public relations campaign has started too.

What are the options for the team? Can it get back in or is it out of the sport for good. What about the riders, will they stay with a team without a licence? If we can’t predict the future we can explore the scenarios and check the rules.

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World Tour: FDJ, Lotto, Argos and Saxo In, Katusha Fired

Weeks ago the UCI announced four teams were competing for final three places in the UCI World Tour and the lottery winners are FDJ, Lotto-Belisol and Argos-Shimano and Saxo Bank all stay in.

This arithmetic only works thanks to the sensational news that Katusha have been ejected and are left hoping to become a Pro Continental team for 2013.

Katusha look to be the big loser but it’s the system itself that takes a hit too. Plus on a secondary level smaller teams like Cofidis, Vini Fantini, MTN-Qhubeka or NetApp-Endura will find their chances of doing the big races shrink.

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Why is Joaquim Rodriguez called “Purito”?

Joaquim Rodriguez leads the Vuelta. Before the race he was a good pick for the podium but few thought he would outclimb Alberto Contador. But thanks to tactical riding and a fast finish he’s grabbed sufficient time bonuses to keep Contador away.

Like many cyclists he has a nickame and it’s “Purito”. It sort of means “clean” in Spanish, a diminutive term… but that’s not the origin of his name. Instead it’s because he smoked his team mates on a training camp.

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Denis Galimzyanov suspended pending EPO test

Katusha’s Denis Galimzyanov has been provisionally suspended following a positive test for EPO. In a press release issued by the UCI, the Russian rider was caught in an out of competition test on 22 March.

Here’s a look at the what happens next and why his team just can’t seem to get any good news.

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UCI waive their own rules to let Kolobnev join Katusha

How good is your maths? If you can count, have a go at the number of riders listed on the Katusha team as of tonight on the UCI website. I make it 28 riders and one neo, a total of 29 riders.

All seems normal so far. Only the Russian team today announced it has signed Alexander Kolobnev. And that is against the UCI rules.

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One UCI official, two jets and three yachts

A good salary in a hard currency combined with tax perks make working at the UCI a financially rewarding role. But not everyone does it for the money. One member of  the UCI Management Committee who doesn’t need extra income is Igor Makarov.

Chairman of ITERA, the Russian gas trading company, some say Makarov is a billionaire but it’s hard to be precise with his net worth. He’s the former champion cyclist who started selling jeans on the streets of Turkmenistan and became a Russian oligarch and now helps run Russian cycling as well as the UCI. Needless to say he is wealthy and busy too. So whilst some UCI officials might get to travel in business or first class, Makarov goes private. The jet above is his.

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2012 UCI Pro Teams

Professional cycling teams are ranked into three tiers. The top level is UCI Pro Team and the 18 teams here have automatic and obligatory access to the big races on the UCI’s World Tour calendar. In addition, there is a range of rules governing these teams that aim to ensure sporting and financial stability.

You’ll find the top-18 teams below, their sponsors explained plus riders and staff listed.

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Tinker, tailor, cyclist, spy

The Katusha team has yet to deliver the results that match its ambitions and its budget. Joaquim Rodriguez and Denis Galimzyanov have had some good wins but for me the most fascinating aspect of the team is the network of people who stand behind the squad.

This is a tale of secret agents, oligarchs, oil and gas, presidents and prime ministers as well as pro cycling. It is like no other team.

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What is Holczer doing?


Imagine the scenario. You run one of the biggest budget teams in the sport but sadly the results haven’t followed. Some riders have done well but in general things haven’t gone to plan. Maybe it’s time to change managers, who do you call?

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Relegation tales

Amir Zagari
Most valuable players

Ag2r-La Mondiale are in the UCI World Tour. This status guarantees the French team entry to all the big races. But this position is under review given their low rankings.

To summarise, any team sitting in 14-18th place in the UCI’s internal rankings sees the position in the top flight under review. Right now Ag2r, the new Lotto-Ridley team, Katusha and Geox sit in this “relegation zone”. Dropping down to Pro Continental status is not automatic, simply the position reviewed and set against the arrival of new applicants.

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