Tchmil claims Menchov and his agent behaved improperly over negotiations
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tchmil claims Menchov and his agent behaved improperly over negotiations

by Shane Stokes at 11:26 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Says that there’ll be no place for Russian on his team as long as he is managed in current fashion

Andrei TchmilTeam Katusha general manager Andrei Tchmil has responded to recent critical quotes by Denis Menchov to Biciciclismo, saying that it was the rider and his agent who didn’t behave properly, rather than he. The former Classics winner feels aggrieved, and has said that while he still admires the rider, that he would not have any place on the team as long as he is managed in the current fashion.

The simmering tension began when Tchmil spoke to, questioning why the Russian Grand Tour contender initially said that he didn’t want to join Team Katusha when it was first set up, but then this season rejected its offer in favour of the new Team Geox.

“The situation was a bit strange,” said Menchov last week, responding to those comments. “His 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 in the market.”

Tchmil responded in turn today, ramping up the media exchange and saying that he wanted to make some clarifications. “I really doubt that a smart person like that rider could have expressed such an opinion without some pressures, also because I followed him carefully as a rider – I went to Barcelona to talk with him in person – and as a man – I sent him a telegram expressing congratulations for having achieved the Tour de France podium. In that occasion, as agreed with his agent, I didn’t bother him, in order to let him focus on his own goals.

“But, if “to be treated in a better way” means more money, then – as far as I know – I have to admit that our basic offer was much higher than his current salary at Geox-TMC, and I’m confident that we could have found an arrangement. And the reason is not because he’s a Russian rider, but because I think he’s really worth that. I believe, when you’re the chief of such an important project like ours, you should not use this feature when you choose your athlete.”

Tchmil met Menchov in Spain in August and made a proposal to him. He said that he was waiting for a response on that, only to read in the media that the rider had signed with Team Geox.

“I realized that maybe some other interests were behind the negotiations, interests that even Menchov himself was ignoring. It was a matter nor of money neither of consideration, otherwise I would have been called for starting the negotiations. We’ve always shown our predilection for the rider, since our debut between Pro Tour teams.”

Dismissing money as the reason, Tchmil goes on to underline that the team has grown. He refers to initial discussions he had with Menchov in 2008 in relation to guarantees that the team would gain admission to the Tour de France; calling that question a ‘just request for such a champion,’ Tchmil said that the team has grown in the years since and was second in the UCI world rankings at the time that the latest negotiations were taking place in August.

It’s not known if there was a disagreement about the team’s anti-doping policy, but Tchmil stresses that every rider is obliged to sign up to the team’s penalty clause.

“We demand to be on to everything, and that’s why we rely on Mapei [the Mapei Centre, where testing is carried out by Aldo Sassi and others] and we signed in all of our riders’ contracts a penalty clause which provide for the team the payment of five times the agreed salary if they’re found guilty of using doping substances.

“Lots of agents don’t like this policy, but whoever wants to be part of this team must accept it and all riders are equal before this rule: Russians, Italians, Spanish, French, Spanish and so on.

“I think that, during the years, we lost the sense of discipline of all shapes. The same discipline that was strong in my time. Team Katusha require this discipline, and we don’t accept any whims both from riders and their agents or even our management. To make our project grow and develop, everyone has to conform to these rules, and go beyond personal ambitions. If these are my faults, then I’m proudly guilty.”

He signs off his statement by saying that he doesn’t think this topic deserves as much attention as it is currently getting in the media. However he appears to rule out any further negotiations with the rider as long as he is with his current agent.

“I wish Menchov a successful season, and I just add, since I admire him, that Team Katusha will never have a place for him if he continues to be managed like this,” he said.


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