Denis Menchov and Katusha in talks about 2012 contract
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Monday, October 31, 2011

Denis Menchov and Katusha in talks about 2012 contract

by Shane Stokes at 7:57 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Astana reported deterred by large wage bill

Denis MenchovAlthough he appeared to rule out a move to his home team earlier this month, it now looks possible that Denis Menchov could be heading to the Russian team.

Questions over the future of his Geox TMC team, which has lost its title sponsor and is trying to bring a new title sponsor on board, means that Menchov has been looking elsewhere. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, he has been in talks with both Astana and Katusha. While the former is said to be deterred by a reported €1.8 million salary request, the Italian newspaper reports that things are progressing with the latter team.

Katusha and Menchov discussed his signature on at least two occasions in recent years, but each time talks broke down. Last year general manager Andrei Tchmil travelled to Spain to speak to the rider about coming on board, but things didn’t work out.

Reading between the lines, it appears possible that Menchov may have been unhappy with the salary situation. “The situation was a bit strange,” he told Biciciclismo then. “His [Tchmil’s] behavior didn’t seem the best, although he defends his position and I defend mine. I think that I deserved a different attitude.

“Being a Russian team and a national project of cycling, I think that I ought to have had a different approach; not the same as with the rest of the riders who were in the market. I do not know what the idea was or what was the point of view, but is illogical.

“There are national projects such as the one from Kazakhstan [Astana – ed] and there was no doubt that was where Vinokourov would ride. The Sky project: where Wiggins had a contract with Garmin and Sky made every effort to bring the best British rider to the national team. It’s the same with Andy Schleck and the Luxembourg team. But that was not my case, and it was that which seemed strange.”

Suggestions of a lack of understanding between Menshov and Tchmil will be less relevant as Hans Michael Holczer is taking over as team manager and will oversee the day to day running and many of the decisions relating to the squad.

The team has strengthened its lineup for 2012, signing riders such as Menchov’s former Rabobank team-mate Oscar Freire, his current team-mate Xavier Florencio (Geox-TMC), Alexander Kristoff (BMC Racing), Simon Spilak (Lampre) and Angel Vicioso (Androni-Giocattoli).

Menchov has a strong history in Grand Tours, winning the Vuelta a España in 2005 and 2007, taking the Giro d’Italia in 2009 and finishing third, fourth and fifth overall in the Tour de France.

He was set to continue with Geox-TMC but is clearly concerned by the uncertainty about the team. If he does indeed leave, that would seem to scupper the chances of the squad getting a ProTeam licence for 2012. It had been ranked seventeenth in the UCI’s recently-released list of the sporting hierarchy of teams, with three of the five teams between sixteenth and twentieth set to get a licence.

The UCI has stated that if Geox-TMC does stop, the 1t4i team currently ranked 21st won’t be included in the list of those contending for ProTeam status.


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