Katusha team launched with big ambitions in Moscow
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Katusha team launched with big ambitions in Moscow

by Shane Stokes at 8:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Menchov, Freire, Rodriguez and others aiming high in 2012

KatushaHeading into what will be its fourth season in the peloton, the Katusha team leaders from on and off the bike today spoke with ambition at the team launch in Moscow. The team has progressed each season, building up to a point where it can now contend in the Tour de France and other Grand Tours, and will have its strongest lineup ever in 2012.

“I am proud to be a member of the Russian Global Cycling Project and Katusha. It’s really exciting to watch the ongoing revival of Russian cycling and to have an opportunity to take an active part in it,” said Denis Menchov, triple Grand Tour winner and new signing to the team.

“I hope that my personal contribution let the team achieve excellent results and win numerous podium places. In the 2012 season I'll fully focus on Grand Tours, especially on Tour de France. And in France I do not limit my role only to competing for victory. I'm also aimed at teaching young riders and sharing my vast experience with them.”

When the team was established, aiming for the Tour de France victory was the stated long term project. Menchov has been approached on several occasions but until now, things never worked out well in terms of brining him on board. The collapse of the Geox TMC team plus the introduction of Hans Michael Holczer as the general manager combined at the right time to secure Menchov’s signature, though, and he’s aiming high after missing the 2011 Tour.

Also joining the team is triple world road race champion Oscar Freire, who moves across after nine seasons with the Rabobank team. He’s in his final pro season but showed that his hunger is still there when he scooped a stage victory in the Santos Tour Down Under earlier this month.

He said that he has settled in well, and considers himself to be friends with the other riders on the team. “I see I speak a common language with all Katusha cyclists, though I've just joined the team a couple of months ago,” the Spaniard said. “The atmosphere in Katusha is really good. And it was the atmosphere which set me up for the recent victory at a stage of Tour Down Under. I feel like I’m at home in Katusha.”

That’s music to the ears of team co-founder and Itera CEO Igor Makarov. He wants the team to continue to develop and much as the new signings should guarantee top results, he also believes that they will have a longer lasting effect in terms of having guided and inspired the younger riders who will be racing for many years to come.

“The signings of Menchov and Freire are actually aimed at strengthening the current training system in Katusha,” he explained. “We strongly welcome any rider who is ready to both perform actively on the road and [also in] instructing less experienced team-mates how to take victories. It is already clear that Oscar Freire and Denis Menchov are these riders, and they are handling their job at the highest level. Our young sprinter Denis Galimzyanov told me today that he learnt a lot from Freire and even made friends with him.”

In the three years of its existence, the team has been on the podium 210 times and clocked up 68 victories. These include stage wins in all three Grand Tours, amongst those the triumph by Joaquim Rodriguez ahead of Alberto Contador at Mende in the 2010 Tour de France. It also landed stages in many other stage races, picked up Classics such as the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen, the Amstel Gold Race and Paris – Bruxelles and, with Rodriguez, won the UCI WorldTour’s individual classification just over a year ago.

The latter is about to start his third year with the squad and believes a successful time lies ahead. “I strongly believe that signing of new riders will help our team to perform at a high level in the upcoming season. Menchov and Freire are very nice guys, and it's a big pleasure to ride with them,” he said. “We do not compete but help each other, so I am convinced that it should result in our perfect performance in the very near future - on spring one-day Classics and Giro d'Italia.”

The launch in Moscow was attended by representatives of the Russian government, sporting bodies, Olympic committee, cycling federation and also the IOC. Riders and staff were also present, as was Makarov.

“Our team Katusha is entering into its fourth season at the highest league of world cycling. We have all rights to be proud of it, because Katusha is a team of the highest international class, is one of the leaders of the world of professional cycling,” he said. “I hope that the new season will develop even more successfully both for Katusha Team, and the whole Russian cycling. I would like to wish Katusha not only more prestigious and brighter victories in the new season, but also further development which, I am convinced, will lead to formation and blossoming of domestic cycling.”

In addition to Holczer, who comes on board after a couple of seasons away from pro cycling, Christian Henn, Valerio Piva, Michael Rich, Uwe Peschel and Torsten Schmidt will be guiding the riders in 2012, as well as Dmitriy Konyshev, Mario Chiesa, Claudio Cozzi and Gennady Mikhaylov. Sebastian Weber will have a coaching role, while Erik Zabel has accepted a position working directly with the riders. He helped bring success to the HTC Highroad team in recent years and will seek to do the same for Katusha.

Additional teams:

Apart from the ProTeam, there will be three other squads which will act as a feeder system for it and also to develop Russian cycling in general.

The UCI Continental team Itera-Katusha has had two seasons in the UCI Europe Tour and was the best Continental team in Europe last year. In 2012 it is aiming to perform strongly once again in the UCI Europe Tour and Russian U23 Championships, as well as being the best of the European continental teams. It also wants to see its riders don national colours and be successful in the road and track European and the World Championships.

The Russian Global Cycling Network also includes youth teams in the under 23 and under 21 categories.


Team Katusha:

Maxim Belkov (from Vacansoleil), Pavel Brutt, Denis Galimzyanov, Vladimir Gusev, Mikhail Ignatyev, Petr Ignatenko, Alexander Porsev, Yuriy Trofimov, Eduard Vorganov, Timofey Kritskiy (from Itera-Katusha), Vladimir Isaychev, Denis Menchov (from Geox), Alexey Tsatevich (from Itera-Katusha) – all – Russia; Joan Horrach Ripoll, Xavier Florencio (from Geox), Oscar Freire (from Rabobank), Alberto Losada, Daniel Moreno, Joaquim Rodriguez, Angel Vicioso (from Androni Giocattoli) – all – Spain; Giampaolo Caruso, Luca Paolini – all – Italy; Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Belarus), Maxime Vantomme (Belgium), Alexander Kristoff (from BMC) (Norway), Rudiger Selig (from Leopard Trek) (Germany), Marco Haller (from Adria Mobil) (Austria), Simon Spilac (from Lampre) (Slovenia), Gatis Smukulis (HTC-Highroad) (Latvia).

Chief directeurs sportifs: Valerio Piva and Dmitrii Konyshev.

Itera-Katusha Continental team:

Igor Boev, Alexander Foliforov, Igor Frolov, Pavel Kochetkov, Dmitriy Kosyakov, Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Russian RR Under 23 Champion), Dmitry Mokrov, Maxim Pokidov, Sergey Pomoshnikov, Alexandr Prishpetnyy, Maxim Razumov, Sergey Rudaskov, Alexander Rybakov, Andrei Solomennikov, Anton Vorobyev (Russian TT Under 23 Champion), Ilnur Zakarin, Kirill Baranov (track) and Sergey Chernetckii (track).

Directeur sportif Nikolay Morozov.

Under-23 team:

Mikhail Akimov, Sergei Alekhin, Alexey Belov, Alexander Grigoryev, Nikita Kapralov, Roman Katyrin, Artur Kovsh, Konstantin Kuperasov, Gennady Tatarinov, Kirill Yatsevich.

Directeurs sportifs: Evgeny Popov, Alexander Vasin and Anatoly Yarkin.

Under 21 team:

Viacheslav Akhmametyev, Vladislav Belevantsev, Alexander Berezkin, Kirill Egorov, Alexander Evtushenko, Sergey Kolodin, Aleksandr Mezhechev, Alexey Ryabkin, Artur Shaymuratov, Sergey Temnenko.


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