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Second Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Date published:
December 11, 2012, 19:00
  • Orica-GreenEdge primed for Le Tour de Langkawi debut

    Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge) checks his gap on the final climb
    Article published:
    December 11, 2012, 03:53
    By:
    Cycling News

    Meyer to lead team capable of capturing overall title

    Cameron Meyer will lead a powerful six-man team at next year's Le Tour de Langkawi after race organisers announced the addition of the Australian squad to the list of 22 invited teams. Orica-GreenEdge is the third ProTeam to sign-up after Astana and Garmin-Sharp confirmed its participation in the race running from 21 February-2 March.

    Orica-GreenEdge team manager Shayne Bannan is no stranger to the Tour de Langkawi. The former high-performance director of the Australian Institute of Sport was the director sportif for the Australian national team during the 1998 edition.

    "That's where our connection with the Mapei team and their training center in Italy started," said Bannan.

    "Our common history is a pretty long one," he added.

    Former Tour Down Under champion Cameron Meyer will be joined by former Australian national road champion and younger brother Travis who made his grand tour debut at the Vuelta a España this year.

    One of the team's standout riders from 2012 Luke Durbridge, will no doubt use the 1,467.9km tour to build his condition for a big season in Europe. Next year’s edition has dropped the individual time trial in favour of a 162.7km opening stage which otherwise would have been perfect for the time trial specialist. The team’s second-youngest rider Durbridge is hoping to start his first grand tour next year and Langkawi should be ideal preparation for what may be a call-up for the Giro d’Italia.

    New Zealand’s Sam Bewley is also included in the line-up. Bewley officially signed with the ProTeam after the retirement of Robbie McEwen in late May this year and will enter his fourth season at the WorldTour level. The 25-year-old won the bronze medal in the team pursuit at the London Olympic Games and will be a valuable worker for the team in what will be his first full year with Orica-GreenEdge.

    Rounding out the squad will be Aidis Kruopis from Lithuania and the Dutchman Pieter Weening. Kruopis is one of the team’s upcoming sprinters who demonstrated his bunch speed by winning a stage of the Tour of Poland earlier in the year and took two stage wins at the Tour du Poitou Charentes - while his teammate Durbridge won the overall classification.

    Weening is a respected climber and depending on his condition in the early part of the year, could be a contender on the stage to Genting Highlands. The experienced rider from the Netherlands had spent 10 years with the Rabobank outfit, having graduated from the development Continental team, before joining Orica-GreenEdge in 2012. Weening's most recent victory was on Stage 5 at last year's Giro before donning the leader's jersey for four days.

    "As the first ProTeam from Oceania, they perfectly fit into our event," said Tour CEO Emir Abdul Jalal. "We understand that they won’t only come to participate but they are putting together a strong team for winning the overall classification and a few stages."

     

    Tags:
    GreenEdge
  • How World Series Cycling plans to reinvent the sport

    Jonathan Price explains the World Series Cycling project
    Article published:
    December 11, 2012, 05:22
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Gifted Group's Jonathan Price talks to Cyclingnews

    For more than a year rumours spread about the founding of a cycling breakaway league. On Monday Cyclingnews was one of the selected media who sat down with the men behind the World Series Cycling (WSC) project. Jonathan Price from the Gifted Group and business partner Thomas Kurth wanted to get rid of their renegade reputation while throwing their cards on the table to get their project into the next phase. The Gifted Group joined forces with Zdenek Bakala at the end of 2011. The Czech billionaire featured as a bridge between the WSC and the International Cycling Union (UCI). Discussions with the major race organizers have been started.

    "We're working with the UCI and Zdenek [Bakala] to build a competitive product that we think cycling fans worldwide want and which is good for the sport," Jonathan Price said.

    In the plans that were revealed on Monday the WSC is founded by eight current WorldTour teams, not including British top team Sky Procycling from Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins. The calendar would feature 10 new worldwide Grand Prix 4-day events alongside the three Grand Tours and six of the major one-day classics (Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold Race, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Giro di Lombardia).

    Each Grand Prix (Thursday-Sunday) would feature all the best riders and exist of a sprint stage, a mountain stage, a rolling stage and a time trial; five individual time trials and five team time trials spread over the 10 races. A simplified points structure would crown a world champion team and rider. Use of new technology would be encouraged while franchise regulations and a state-of-the art anti-doping program would eradicate doping. It appears the WSC will create a package which sells better to sponsors and broadcasters.

    Eight current WorldTour teams were formally presented on Monday as founders of the WSC project. The eight WSC teams are the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team from investor Zdenek Bakala, Garmin-Sharp (USA), Liquigas-Cannondale (Ita), Movistar (Spa), Vacansoleil-DCM (Ned), Saxo-Tinkoff (Den), RadioShack-Nissan (Lux) and Rabobank Cycling (Ned). The presence of the last team is provisory since sponsor Rabobank has pulled out of the sport and the team is still seeking a way to continue in another identity.

    General manager of the WSC-teams is Thomas Kurth. He said the teams are focused on their own issues which made it obvious to get someone like him as independent manager.

    "They have no time for projects like this. I have the experience from the G14 [former organization of biggest football teams] to deal with this. I'm trying to deal with the management without being bothered by rider issues. Sometimes the teams are rivals so it's good to have somebody independent," Thomas said.

    "We are encouraged by the UCI's stakeholder consultation process launched last week which coincided well with our plans which we have developed over the last two years with our commercial partner, Gifted, and over the end of last year with Zdenek Bakala."

    Jonathan Price took his time to explain his plans to Cyclingnews, briefly described above. Below are his answers to our questions.

    Q: What is known about the timing of the project?
    A: I think in terms of timing it's always easy to talk about vision but there are a lot of practical issues. Having said that there is also a big demand for this sort of product with the broadcast community and with sponsors. I think there's a balance to be struck between the sort of process that you need to go through in a properly-run sport and also responding to the requirements of the market. Because ultimately, if you don't respond to the requirements of the market then you die.

    In terms of the Grand Prix Series we are actively involved now in negotiations to start putting together our first race and to entering - what I would call - detailed negotiations on a broadcast deal. That process is now under way. There are other actors in the sport who will have a voice on wider issues. It's not for me as a single person to determine the time scale for that. I think everyone recognizes that there's a need for change... I think I've said it all when you have to react to what the marketplace wants. Otherwise, if you don't do it, other people do it for you.

    Q: What about the current race organizers, are they in danger?
    A: I don't think so. Firstly, we've spoken to RCS [Giro d'Italia and Giro di Lombardia], we've spoken to Wouter Vandenhaute [Flanders Classics], we've spoken to Heineken and Leo van Vliet [Amstel Gold Race]. I don't want to put words in their mouths but none of them have responded negatively. With regard to RCS we've taken those discussions a stage further, in terms of looking at how we can build an arrangement with them for the participation of our teams in their races and sharing commercial revenues, so that there's a win-win business model. We made an approach to speak to ASO [Amaury Sports Organisation] which we think was correctly. We set WSC up as a company in Luxembourg and we made an approach to ASO through the Luxembourg government, through the minister of Economics, Jeannot Krecké. The response from ASO was that they wanted us to engage with the UCI before they entered into any discussions with us. We've gone ahead with that - which we always intended to do anyway - and so in some time in the future I would expect to sit down with them and have a conversation. I don't personally see this as a threat to any of their business, on the contrary.

    We will keep the commercial rights to the races that we set up but we need event organizers. If you look at ASO, RCS, Wouter, Leo... They are all highly experienced race organizers. I see us working with them and making good business out of organizing these races.

    Q: What about the smaller organisations?
    A: I don't think anyone's talking about participating in any races or trying to damage them. If you look at something like the ATP Tour, there's a sort of hierarchy. In tennis you have the four grand slams, you have the ten 1000-points events and the best players all participate in those fourteen events and the WorldTour finals. So their season is based on 15 core events. Our view is that something similar is needed in cycling. You can build the top level of competition as the top riders are competing in it all the time. Two of the initiatives which are in the documents included support for a competition for emerging riders. We recognize we have an obligation to develop talent in the sport. We'd also like to see a parallel women's series. I think, it's a widely recognized fact now that there needs to be an equality in sports. Women's sports have advanced rapidly in the past 20 years. We need to make sure we're looking after 50 percent of the population [laughs]. You don't have to do that in a paternal sense. You look at the quality of the product they produce. Look at the Olympic road race. In my country there's a huge level of support for the women's cyclists in Great Britain. That it's different in other countries? It has to change.

    Q: Currently organizers receive the television revenues. Why would they share them with someone else?
    A: Why would they? If we can demonstrate that we can deliver an increase in the value of their races then it makes sense for them to share the benefits with us. That goes back to the lack of shared interest. At the moment the model that exists doesn't encourage people to work together. It encourages people to take advantage of the other parties. What we want to create here is something where everyone sees value in moving in the same direction. For a race organizer there's a big commitment here to deliver a clean sport. If you have for example a beautiful race like the Tour de France and you put the effort behind it every year and then you see it being damaged by doping then that must be hugely frustrating. Firstly, there's a real commitment here to get a clean sport that can only be advantageous. Secondly, there's a genuine business opportunity for the race organizers in terms of working with us to organize the races. Thirdly, our ambition's clear to set these races up around the world in new markets. Those are markets which currently don't make a huge contribution to the business of the existing race organizers.

    One of the problems that I perceived previously, when people have spoken about wanting to develop the cycling calendar it's always been based on going to the ASO and saying: 'You have a cake and we have a cake. If we put it together we have something bigger and we share it.' But actually you have ASO which has a cake like this [Price spreads his arms wide open] and the other guys with a cupcake like that [Price leaves a tiny space between two fingers]. We're prepared to deliver real value here. We know the things that will make a difference to everyone. If we invest in this as we're doing and create it then it can help everyone. On that basis then we should share something bigger. We're not asking for a percentage of what you've built to date. We're talking about where we can help you deliver more value.

    Q: Isn't there a conflict of interest with Bakala being both an investor and competitor?
    A: There's a clear distinction in this regard between QuickStep the team and Zdenek Bakala the investor. He has a whole host of business interests other than QuickStep. Without being disrespectful to QuickStep I think they're significantly bigger. I think the idea that as an investor he would try to look after the interests of his team is erroneous. I also think as well that there are a whole host of ways when you set up a company and put together a business that you can ensure that those conflicts of interests don't arise, in terms of people who sit on boards, in terms of shareholder agreements. I think he very well understands that. I'm confident that we'll put in place some very practical solutions to prevent that from arising.

    Q: Will more than Mr Bakala's investment (between 10-20 million euros) be needed to make the project happen?
    A: Again, one of the reasons why we're comfortable working with him is that it's clear that if that were needed he has the ability to do it. Equally, this is not meant to be a charity. The whole reason we've put this project together is because we believe there's a significant commercial opportunity. And on that basis we expect it to be making money for its participants and not calling upon them to underwrite it. It's like any other business. Sometimes you need to invest at the start to create the platform for that enterprise.

    Q: Not among the eight founding teams is the best WorldTour team of last season, Sky Procycling. Why is that?
    A: It's because we started this project with eight teams. They - I think it’s for them to comment on any particular reasons - but I think their focus during an Olympic year was very much on that program and the Tour de France. We would very much like them to join this program.

    There's been a degree of fear around this project that we - the so-called breakaway which we've never been - were somehow going to kind of incur the displeasure of the UCI and that therefore being involved in it would cause trouble. I think now teams come to realize that's not the case. On the contrary, we want to work with the UCI; we have the funding to put it together from Mr Bakala. We want to do this with the stakeholders in the sport and there's no reason to be fearful and every reason to participate in the process of reforming the sport. UCI has made an open invitation in the last week to all stakeholders in the sport to participate in this process. They clearly made that invitation in good faith and I don't see this initiative as anything other than sort of responding to that and putting our cards on the table about what we'd like to see.

    Q: Will there be a brand new race or will old races be converted into the Grand Prix format of four-race days with a time trial (individual or team), rolling stage, mountain stage and a sprint stage?
    A: It could be a mixture of both. [...] Right now we're working on a first new Grand Prix. I'll say where when it's ready. [...] There's certain markets which are not covered by the top level of cycling at the moment where we want to create new races. Equally, there are existing race organizers who see the value of what we're building and believe that by working with us on this format we can deliver better value for them. We're open to those discussions too.

    Q: Who will run the doping testing?
    A: The way we see it happening is all through UCI. They are the regulator of the sport. They make the sporting and technical regulations. We're not seeking any change in that. We've made a clear commitment to them that we understand that and that we want to work within it. There are a lot of people out there who said a lot of negative things about the UCI. Firstly, it's easy to comment on a federation but a lot harder to run one. Secondly, there has always been a financial limit on their anti-doping program. I'm sure that if you asked Pat McQuaid he would like an unlimited budget for his anti-doping program. That's one of the things that we are committed to here. The teams already make a significant contribution here financially. We went to a independent testing agency and asked them: 'if money wasn't the object and you could put together your dream program for 280 riders, how much would it cost?' The answer was four million euros. So that's basically what we've put in our budget. The way we see it, this has to be under the auspices of UCI, has to adhere to the WADA-code but there are some other things that we can add to it like funding and the use of employment contracts for sanctions which can all help to deliver a clean sport.

    Q: There are already four-day stage races throughout the world. What is the radical change here? Why will people think that this project is different?
    A: It will be different because there will be ten of them. It will be a coherent product. It will have a proper global broadcast platform. It will have the best riders in every race. A lot of them currently don't. If you want to see the best cyclists go head to head throughout the series this is the way to see it. That's fundamentally what it's about.

    Q: I think I already know who the best sprinter, climber, time trialist or best rider on a rolling stage is. Why do I need the WSC for that?
    A: If they're the best then they're the best. Sport is dynamic, it changes. So you can be the best one week and not be the best the next week. You can be the best one year but not be the best the next year. The whole story of how that shifts, when new athletes emerge and existing champions lose their titles make sport what it is. Sport is uncertain. You say that everybody knows who the best time trialist is but how do you actually recognize him? The best time trialist didn't participate in the world championships this year. Again, it's about that coherent championships structure and having a proper narrative throughout the season that the sport follows. You say everybody knows who the best time trialist is and a keen cycling follower does but the average sports fan doesn't. An awful lot of people out there who have heard of Bradley Wiggins, who have heard of Mark Cavendish but if you asked them to provide you with a lucid explanation of who's the best at what they struggled to explain it to you. The whole sport needs to simplify itself. The message is too complicated right now.
     

    Tags:
    Tour de France
    Giro d'Italia
    Vuelta a España
    UCI
  • Rodríguez wants Katusha license debacle "resolved"

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) climbs with Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) at the Tour of the Basque country
    Article published:
    December 11, 2012, 09:04
    By:
    Cycling News

    UCI's number-one rider unsure of next step

    The news that Team Katusha would not receive a renewal of its UCI ProTeam license and a place in the WorldTour came as a shock to not only the cycling community but the team itself.

    Most were led to believe either Argos-Shimano or Team Saxo-Tinkoff would miss out on a ProTeam license, not the team led by the world’s number-one-ranked rider Joaquim Rodríguez.

    The UCI has stated the Russian team now has the option of applying for a Professional Continental license. Katusha has not yet received all the information explaining the refusal of its license application and until the specifics are known, Rodríguez prefers not to comment too much.

    "I do not know how it works and, until it we have clarity, I prefer not to say anything because everything you say can go against us. I'll see. Hopefully that is resolved," reported Biciclismo.

    Rodríguez amassed an impressive list of results this year that included second-place overall at the Giro d’Italia, third-place at the Vuelta a España while he closed the season with a win at the Giro di Lombardia.

    Without a spot in the WorldTour, Rodríguez will have to rely on wild card entries for his potential Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España campaigns. It's a familiar situation that led fellow Spaniard Alberto Contador to suggest he may not target the Tour de France - prior to Team Saxo-Tinkoff team receiving a ProTeam license.

    "It was very good," reflected Rodríguez on his 2012 season. "Hard to repeat. I'm very happy with how it went. Having lost the Vuelta and Giro means I am close. I would like to fight again for a big one. I'll see. I'll settle for trying to win."

    Former winner of the Vuelta and this year’s second-place finisher Alejandro Valverde expressed his surprise on the ProTour license omission while Alberto Contador also commented on the unexpected outcome.

    "I'm surprised but that’s all I can pretty much say. Surprising because he finished second in the Giro, third in the Vuelta and has won many important races" said Valverde.

    "It was a thing that I never thought could happen. I am surprised," added Contador.

    It is unknown whether Rodríguez may seek to annul his contract for 2013 and join a team already approved for the WorldTour in the coming season. The Spaniard had previously stated he was likely to sign a contract extension that would see him ride the next two years at the team. However, with no ProTeam license and reliance on wild card entries, he may seek a more secure option elsewhere.

     

  • Lotto Belisol relieved to have WorldTour licence

    The Lotto Belisol Ladies team.
    Article published:
    December 11, 2012, 11:41
    By:
    Cycling News

    "Good for Belgian cycling"

    Lotto Belisol were thrilled by the news on Monday evening that they will be riding in the WorldTour in 2013. The Belgian team expected the top-ranked licence, but knew it had to wait for the final word.

    "We were pretty sure that we would get the WorldTour license, but it was still waiting for the official message came," general manager Bill Olivier told Het Nieuwsblad "That we have this licence of course makes a world of difference.”

    Lotto Belisol had been in the uncomfortable position of being on hold in the process. “We did not immediately get the green light, since we were 17th in the UCI ranking. Only the first fifteen teams received a license automatically. We had to defend our dossier in Geneva.”

    "That the license we achieve is certainly not a surprise but it was still waiting and that is never fun," added sports manager Marc Sergeant. "We now have the certainty that we are going to ride all the big races. Ideal for our internship continue to work in the best conditions. "

    “Any other decision would have surprised us, we were very hopeful that we would get a licence,” said sports director Marc Sergeant in the team's press release. "That we can ride all WorldTour races is reassuring. For all riders, staff and sponsors this is excellent news. It is also good for Belgian cycling, it was almost unthinkable that Lotto Belisol wouldn't have got a licence."

  • Sky lead with Boasson Hagen and Sutton at Tour Down Under

    Edvald Boasson Hagen moved onto the podium after the final stage of the race
    Article published:
    December 11, 2012, 12:29
    By:
    Cycling News

    Classics contingent head to Australia

    Edvald Boasson Hagen and Chris Sutton will lead Team Sky at next month’s Santos Tour Down Under. The first WorldTour event of the year takes place between January 22 and 27 in Adelaide and marks the team’s fourth outing in the event.

    Sky made their debut in the race in 2010, picking up the final stage of the race through a Sutton sprint victory and the Australian will ally with Boasson Hagen, who finished 7th overall in 2012.

    Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas, Mathew Hayman and Bernhard Eisel will round out the rest of the team.

    The team will also race the People’s Choice Classic criterium before the Tour Down Under. Sky won the event in 2010 with a 1-2 finish from Greg Henderson and Chris Sutton.
     

  • Saxo-Tinkoff says right decision was made over WorldTour licence

    The new Saxo Bank Tinkoff team kit
    Article published:
    December 11, 2012, 13:37
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    UCI looked at strength of team and not just the numbers, team manager says

    Team Saxo-Tinkoff's WorldTour licence for 2013 was up in the air for a while, but now the Danish team knows that it can tackle cycling at the highest level in the coming year. Alberto Contador can prepare for the Tour de France, and the team's many other talented riders can look to the challenges facing them.

    Being assured that the team has the licence “feels good. It is nice, a relief,” team managing director Trey Greenwood told Cyclingnews Tuesday. “We're very happy and think it is the right decision.”

    It had been rumoured that Saxo-Tinkoff and Argos-Shimano would battle it out for the final remaining 2013 WorldTour spot, but in a surprise move, the UCI announced on Monday evening that both teams would receive the top licences, whilst Katusha was denied.

    Did Greenwood ever have doubts that things wouldn't work out? “Of course you have doubts. “But we went to the hearing and felt we had a strong case.  We have good riders and brought in new good riders.  All the other criteria were ok, it all comes down to the strength of the team.”

    It was more than just number-crunching involved in the UCI's decision, as the team would not have qualified under the points system.

    “Fortunately for us they look at the roster. If it was just  mathematics, we wouldn't be here, since they didn't count Alberto's points.”

    One of the team's top aims for 2013 will be leading Contador to the top step of the podium in Paris at the end of the Tour de France, but “the team is not just Alberto.”

    “We feel we have a lot of other guys who can win races. Bjarne [Riis] put together an excellent team with the budget he has, he is a genius at that.”

    For example, Greenwood told Cyclingnews, “we have Matti Breschel back for the Classics, and excellent riders for all things.”

    In putting together the 2013 squad, “we have made a lot of good decisions and have a lot of good people. We saw that at our training camp.”

    He summed up that receiving the licence despite the lack of points “is proof for Bjarne that he made the right decisions.”

  • UCI officially nullifies Armstrong's Tour de France titles and results

    Lance Armstrong in the Discovery Channel days
    Article published:
    December 11, 2012, 15:28
    By:
    Cycling News

    American has three weeks to appeal

    Lance Armstrong has officially lost his seven Tour de France titles and all of his other results after July 1998. The UCI informed him that the disqualifications were now in force, and he has three weeks to appeal that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

    “Lance Armstrong’s lawyer was notified on 6th December that all his results since 1st August 1998 were nullified. He has 21 days to appeal,” UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told the Reuters news agency.

    The UCI action stems from the USADA anti-doping investigation of Armstrong, which ended with a lifetime ban for the American. It ruled that he had been involved in the “most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen”.

    If Armstrong does not appeal this decision, he also faces the loss of his bronze medal from the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Earlier this month the IOC said that it would wait for this UCI action and the end of the appeal period before taking action.

    “The IOC today will not move because we need to have the situation whereby the UCI notifies officially Mr Armstrong of the fact that he will be disqualified and declared ineligible and that he should hand over his medal,” IOC President Jacques Rogge said on December 5.

    “When he will be notified Mr Armstrong will have 21 days to launch an appeal. It is only after that period that the IOC can legally take action.”

    Armstrong has consistently denied doping, and taken very little action concerning the USADA investigation. His attorneys made filings over the summer challenging the USADA's jurisdiction, which a federal court denied. Armstrong announced the end of August that he would not challenge the case, which led to his ban and the stripping of the Tour de France titles and results.

  • Katusha perplexed at 2013 WorldTour exclusion

    The Katusha team
    Article published:
    December 11, 2012, 18:26
    By:
    Cycling News

    UPDATE: Letter sent from Katusha to UCI protesting licence decistion

    One day after learning of the team's surprising exclusion from the 2013 WorldTour, Russia's Katusha Team has responded with incredulity at being denied a position amongst the 18 teams in road cycling's premier division. Katusha's management are perplexed that the team which included the 2012 WorldTour champion Joaquim Rodriguez, plus finished second overall on the WorldTour team standings, and among the top 15 regarding sporting criteria was the only current WorldTour team denied the opportunity to continue as such for next season. Dutch Pro Continental squad Argos-Shimano has been promoted to the WorldTour level while Katusha faces a downgrade.

    "At present moment, Katusha Team has no information regarding the reasons for the decision of the UCI to reject the request from the team for registration in first division," said the team in a statement. "Team management, riders and staff are extremely surprised by the lack of justification for such a decision made by the UCI."

    The team expressed its frustration at the UCI for a lack of communication regarding its WorldTour registration, a process the squad thought was proceeding without issue.

    "Thus earlier the team, which possesses rider No.1 in the world and has finished the season in second place in the UCI World Tour ranking, was informed that it satisfies all possible criteria required for participation in the first division," said Katusha. "The management of Katusha Team, its riders and staff are surprised by such a quick change of decision, lack of coordination inside the UCI press-service and a complete absence of reasons for such a fast decision.

    "The UCI which has been established in order to protect the interests of the riders worldwide, on the contrary by its actions completely violates the canons of sports ethics and causes irreparable moral and psychological harm to the athletes before the start of the new season, and the delay in explaining the reasons of the decisions only shows the lack of the significance of these reasons."

    Additionally, Katusha sees the WorldTour exclusion as an affront to its home nation. "In fact, the only Russian team, where the majority of riders are Russian citizens, has been excluded from participation in races of the World Tour. Thus, this decision of the UCI has suspended Russia as a country from participation in cycling competitions of the highest level."

    Denied its WorldTour registration, the Katusha Team faces a 2013 season at the Professional Continental level which would entail fighting for wildcard selections into WorldTour events rather than the automatic entry the team previously enjoyed. Nonetheless, the team's management vowed to contest the WorldTour decision using all means at its disposal.

    "The Russian team intends to defend its interests with the help of all possible civilized instruments and methods, including going to court," said Katusha. "In the nearest future the management of the Russian team Katusha intends to investigate thoroughly this incident, first of all in order to give all possible explanations to the riders and staff of the team, as well as to choose a future strategy.

    "In addition, the Katusha Team is not retreating from the plans that have been made for the next season and is preparing for the official team presentation, which is scheduled for mid-December 2012 in Italy.

    "Katusha is ready to fight and is stronger than ever."

    UPDATE:
    Cyclingnews has received a letter sent today, December 11, from the Katusha Team to the UCI strongly protesting their denial of a WorldTour licence for the upcoming season. The team indicated that their original application was denied for financial reasons, but that in their hearing on November 22, 2012, the team had addressed the issue via requested information and documents and that an Ernst and Young representative present at the hearing found this new material sufficient.

    Katusha indicated they will take their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if their WorldTour registration is denied.

    Text of Katusha's December 11, 2012, letter to the UCI:

    "Dear Sirs,

    I am acting on behalf of KATUSHA MANAGEMENT SA (KATUSHA).

    By letter dated 10 December 2012 - surprisingly simultaneously published on the UCI website - the UCI Licence Commission has informed KATUSHA of its decision to refuse its registration as UCI ProTeam for the season 2013-2015.

    This decision from the UCI Licence Commission is categorically contested and refused by KATUSHA.

    Please note that in November 2012, the "UCI Team Evaluation Report 2013" stated that only the "Financial Criterion" was assessed as "Does not Comply" but that all other criteria effectively complied with the UCI requirements.

    During the hearing of 22 November 2012, KATUSHA provided all the requested information and documents to the UCI Licence Commission. During this hearing, Mr Pierangelo Beltrami from Ernst & Young confirmed that the explanation and information were unconditionally accepted and sufficient.

    I underline that this information has been confirmed by Mr Pierangelo Beltrami to Mr Holczer yesterday by phone.

    It thus appears that all the criteria comply with UCI requirements and therefore no reasons may justify the refusal of the licence for the season 2013 to 2015.

    Considering the above-mentioned elements, KATUSHA hereby requests that its licence for the 2013-1015 seasons be granted without delay and conditions by the UCI Licence Commission.

    Should the registration as UCI ProTeam for the seasons 2013-2015 be denied, KATUSHA will immediately file an appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sports and/or any other forum it may deemed appropriate to defend its rights.

    I would like to underline that the decision rendered on 10 December 2012 by the UCI Licence Commission was not only an unbelievable shock for KATUSHA but also for all our contact persons in charge of this file with the UCI and Ernst & Young. I note that a major part of the members of the cycling world were identically surprised by such dramatic and unforeseen decision.

    Finally, I kindly draw your attention to the terrible consequences this decision will have in particular for the image and reputation of the team, sponsors, partners, riders, staff and employees.

    This unacceptable decision will obviously have irreparable consequences for the overall KATUSHA project, particularly in Russia.

    My client hereby reserved all its rights to request damages should this situation not be corrected immediately."