Tour of Russia under threat over Katusha WorldTour rejection
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Friday, December 21, 2012

Tour of Russia under threat over Katusha WorldTour rejection

by Ben Atkins at 9:33 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
RusVelo team implies anti-Russian discrimination in its ProConti registration delay

pavel bruttThe proposed Tour of Russia, which is slated to begin in 2014, is under threat thanks to the International Cycling Union (UCI) refusal to grant Katusha registration in the WorldTour, according to Reuters. Much of the race is to take place in the Caucasus mountains, around Sochi - the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics - but without the guaranteed presence of big, local teams, the race may yet be cancelled.

The race originally appeared on the 2012 WorldTour calendar, before being removed, but does not feature on the 2013 calendar. Infrastructure improvements from Sochi 2014 - including hotels and better surfaced roads - will be there for the race in 2014, but it now looks in serious doubt.

“It just doesn't make any sense to stage the Tour of Russia under the current circumstances,” Alexander Gusyatnikov - an advisor to Igor Makarov, Katusha boss and head of the Russian Cycling Federation (FVSR) - told Reuters.

“We have a verbal agreement with the UCI to stage the Tour of Russia in 2014, although we haven't signed a contract yet. The idea was to stage a major race in Russia on an annual basis, starting in 2014, so that Katusha could compete on home soil and Russian fans could watch our best riders in person.”

Events such as the Tour of Russia - along with the Tours of Beijing and Hangzhou, in China - are the cornerstones of the UCI’s globalisation policy, where the European peloton is parachuted into a brand new race, rather than developing and expanding any existing events.

“These are huge markets,” UCI president told Reuters earlier in the month. “If we get in with big events it can motivate a focus on the development of the sport.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s second biggest team, RusVelo, has joined Katusha in its anger - and apparent confusion - over being denied a Professional Continental license for 2013. The UCI named the final three teams to have been registered in the sport’s second division this week, but the Russian team was not among them.

RusVelo has been granted a lifeline by the UCI, with the final decision over its registration to be taken in January after it has provided some additional information; the team, however, like Katusha, claims to be mystified by its exclusion.

“The licensing commission of UCI didn't explained the reasons of this denial,” the team wrote on its Facebook page last night. “The team didn't receive any pretensions and UCI didn't ask for any documents which could change this decision.”

RusVelo compares its own fate to that of Katusha, implying an anti-Russian sentiment at the UCI’s licensing commission for its rejection of both teams.

The press-office of RusVelo considers the not-licensing of the team as a continuing story of Katusha team which has yet not received the license of WorldTour,” it states. “Katusha asked for WorldTour licensing, but it was suddenly denied by UCI. During 9 days the licensing commission of UCI was forming a list of pretensions for the team keeping it in a complete misunderstanding.

“There are 3 French, 3 Belgian and 3 Italian teams in the second division of the World Cycling Tour,” the team notes. “However, there can only be one russian team in that division according to UCI rules.”


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