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Following reports that current Katusha Team general manager Hans-Michael Holczer would be released from the Russian cycling project, the team confirmed on Monday that former rider Viatcheslav Ekimov will be taking his position as of immediate effect.
"Viatcheslav Ekimov is appointed to the position of general manager of Russian World Tour Katusha Team," a press release stated. "Following the purpose of further dynamic development of the Russian professional cycling, the management of the Russian Global Cycling Project made changes in the management of World Tour Katusha Team. The known Russian specialist, the three times Olympic champion Viatcheslav Ekimov who is also the adviser of Igor Makarov, president of Russian Cycling Federation and the chairman of Board of Directors of MGK 'ITERA', is appointed to the post of general manager of Katusha Team as well as youth teams Itera-Katusha.
"On the position of general manager Viatcheslav Ekimov will replace German specialist Hans-Michael Holczer."
No reason for the change was given, but it is understood that tensions arose between the squad's leading rider, Joaquim Rodriguez, and the German team manager over the Spaniard's 2013 contract. Holczer joined Katusha at the end of last year, replacing Andrei Tchmil.
“Right now I can only confirm that I left Katusha last Friday,” Holczer told Cyclingnews in an email. “This decision had nothing to do with the fact that I reminded Rodriguez of his contractual obligations. No definitive decision over my future in cycling has yet been made.”
Ekimov, 46, was instrumental in several of Lance Armstrong's Tour de France victories during his professional career. The winner of the 2000 Sydney Olympic road race finished second of the 2004 Athens Olympic time trial, but following Tyler Hamilton's doping admission he has been upgraded to first place and should be receiving the gold medal.