Katusha-Alpecin general manager Jose Azevedo denied reports that the Katusha-Alpecin team will fold at the end of the season and has released its riders to seek new contracts. When asked by Cyclingnews and other media at the Tour de France about Wednesady's report in L'Equipe, Azevedo was firm in his denial.
"It's not true. For the moment it is a lot of rumours and a lot of speculation. We have people who are working on the future of the team. When we have real news we will announce it," Azevedo said.
When pressed about the reports that riders have been freed to seek new deals, Azevedo clarified that he expects riders under contract to wait and see what the team does.
"We have riders with contracts, and these riders have a contract with the team, and they need to wait. If we have a team we respect the contract. And we have people without contract, people who will finish their contract and these riders are free. It is normal when they finish a contract they are free to decide their future," Azevedo said.
L'Equipe reported that team owner Igor Makarov would visit the team at the Tour de France on the first rest day, but Azevedo denied knowing anything about it.
"I don't know nothing about this," he said. "This is rumors, speculation. When we have news we will announce."
When pressed even further on when the team would decide what its future holds – as it is highly anticipated that Alpecin and Canyon will move to the Corendon-Circus team to support budding star Mathieu van der Poel – Azevedo said there is no time limit on the future of Katusha.
"We don't have a time limit. We are working on some possibilities, everything is open. We have 10 riders with a contract. It's not a priority. First we need to have a decision about the future, and then we start working," he said.
"We need to have a decision, we need to have sponsors. This is the situation. We are working on this."
Azevedo said that so far, the Katusha-Alpecin team has done everything required by the UCI to register for the 2020 season, then he called an end to the reporters' questions.
Cyclingnews reportedly earlier today that the Israel Cycling Academy Pro Continental team has been in discussion with the Katusha team management about a possible merger, as the Israeli team is looking for ways to ascend to the WorldTour. Israel Cycling Academy declined to comment for that report.