Menchov says Ekimov could help seal Katusha signing
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Menchov says Ekimov could help seal Katusha signing

by VeloNation Press at 7:46 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Russian says final details are being ironed out

Denis MenchovTriple Grand Tour winner Denis Menchov has said that the signing of Viatcheslav Ekimov to the Russian Global Cycling Project (RGCP) is having an effect on moving things forward in relation to his likely move to Katusha, and that he hopes that things are finalised soon.

It was announced yesterday that his fellow Russian Ekimov would work in the RGCP henceforth, moving across after many years working on the Discovery Channel, Astana and RadioShack teams. Katusha is part of the RGCP setup and Menchov is clear that the new signing has added additional momentum to his contract negotiations.

“It is now pushing us in the right direction,” he told “The appearance of Ekimov immediately put the process of negotiation into motion.”

With the Geox TMC team he was with facing a very uncertain future, Menchov makes it clear that he sees his future as being with Katusha. “There are detailed and very fruitful negotiations. The contract has not yet been signed, but I don’t rule out that under favourable circumstances, it can happen any time soon.

“It seems to me that Katusha is interested in me. I’ve said many times that I am very interested in it. For me personally and for my career, it would be the right move.”

Given that he has long been the best Russian stage race rider, it is surprising that an agreement has not already been worked out in the past. The team was set up prior to the start of the 2009 season, growing out of the previous Tinkoff Credit Systems team, and Menchov was approached about getting involved.

At the time he told-then general manager Andrei Tchmil that he wasn’t sure and wanted to see how the team developed. The duo met up again in August of 2010 and had more discussions, but things didn’t work out and Menchov signed for Geox-TMC.

The rider spoke about his decision last December. Reading between the lines, it appears that he may not have been offered a high-enough salary. “The situation was a bit strange,” said Menchov then to Biciciclismo. “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 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 on the market.”

Deal looking more likely:

The circumstances have changed a lot over the past year. Geox-TMC lost its title sponsor and the management are frantically scrabbling around to find something else, while Tchmil has been replaced by Hans Michael Holczer at the head of the team.

Those two factors together make it more likely that negotiations first started three years ago could finally bear fruit. Menchov said that things are nearing a conclusion. “Personally, I am almost ready to sign,” he said. “We have discussed the fundamental aspects of the contract with Katusha. Now it all depends on the decision of management team.”

Part of the negotiations have been Menchov’s desire to bring the Russian Dmitry Kozonchuka and the Colombian Mauricio Ardila on board. He said that space is very tight at this time of the year, making things complicated. “I can only say that we have talked about this issue in detail, and generally found a way forward. For both sides it as the best option of all… Both sides made concessions.”

Ardila has been linked to the Continental wing of the new Colombia Coldeportes team, but said that he wants to return to a high-level squad in 2013. It’s possible that Kozontchuk has been signed for next season and that Ardila could come on board at a later date; the final outcome will become clear if and when Menchov’s own contract is finalised.

Whatever jersey he’s wearing in 2012, Menchov has said that he has worked towards having a strong season. “First, I had quite a good vacation in September and October. From mid-autumn I slowly began to prepare for the season,” he said. “This is what is called a general physical preparation. In late November, I plan to begin more serious work and sit on the bike. I’ll try to get into good shape by the beginning of this difficult season.”

Current Katusha team leader Joaquim Rodriguez has indicated that he wants to target the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España next year rather than the Tour. He feels the French race has far too many time trial kilometres; that reservation doesn’t apply to Menchov, who thrives against the clock, and could be a very strong contender for Katusha in the sport’s biggest race.

The Russian said that he also wants to target the Olympic Games, riding the time trial but also being willing to help the sprinters in the road race. That will be music to the ears of Ekimov, who now has the responsibility of helping Russian cycling to progress and develop.


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