Katusha says it will pay Di Luca a salary if UCI insists
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Katusha says it will pay Di Luca a salary if UCI insists

by Shane Stokes at 12:39 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Italian rider cannot race for free under current rules

Danilo di LucaFollowing clarification from the UCI that its current rules do not permit riders competing on a ‘no fee’ basis, Team Katusha has confirmed that it has contacted the governing body about the issue and, if necessary, will change its arrangement with Danilo di Luca as a result.

“We asked the UCI if, notwithstanding the regulation, we can sign the contract without taking [paying - ed.] the minimum salary,” a spokesman told VeloNation this afternoon. “If we can’t, then we’ll follow the UCI rules.”

La Gazzetta dello Sport broke the news yesterday that the 2007 Giro d’Italia winner will return to top-level competition with the Katusha team this season. He was suspended from the sport after testing positive for CERA during the 2009 Giro d’Italia, and had been searching for a team after he became eligible to compete again.

Di Luca said yesterday that two squads in particular had been interested in him: the Astana team of Alexandre Vinokourov, and Andrei Tchmil’s Team Katusha. Astana was offering a good contract but he eventually opted to go with the Russian ProTeam, stating – surprisingly - that he would race without a salary.

In lieu of regular payment, he had worked out an agreement whereby the team would pay him bonuses once he met specific performance targets.

However UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told VeloNation earlier today that this was against the governing body’s rules.

“It's not possible to be part of a professional team without a salary,” he said, confirming that the UCI’s minimum wage for ProTeam riders was €33,000. “Cycling is a professional sport, which did great efforts in the recent past to improve its structure and to protect riders, and no one could be part of it just for free.”

Minimum wages have been part of the sport’s rules for several seasons, but Lance Armstrong was allowed to race without an official salary in 2009. The UCI has not yet responded to requests for clarification of the differences between the Armstrong and Di Luca situations.

The latter is hoping to ride the Giro d’Italia again this season, although that will depend on the willingness of the race organisers to allow him back into its event. Before then, he is due to start competing in the Challenge Mallorca races, then ride the Trofeo Laigueglia, the Tour de Sardinia, Tirreno-Adriático, Milan-San Remo, the Tour du Pays Basque, Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Katusha’s leader for the Giro will be world number one Joaquim Rodriguez. It intends that Di Luca will go there to support the Spaniard, then try to win the Vuelta himself later this year.


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