Andrei Tchmil is set to be replaced by Hans-Michael Holczer as team manager of the Katusha team as the former classics rider targets a key role in the politics of international cycling as the president of the European Cycling Union (ECU).
Cyclingnews understands that Tchmil will hold a press conference in Russia on Saturday with Holczer and Igor Makarov, the president of the Cycling Federation of Russia. Makarov is the head of the Itera gas company, one of the key backers of the Katusha team and also a sponsor of the European Cycling Union.
Holczer is likely to take on a more administrative and financial role at Katusha, with Tchmil remaining as President of the team. Highly respected directeur sportif Valerio Piva has already agreed to join Katusha in 2012 following the demise of HTC-Highroad.
Holczer managed the Gerolsteiner team in Germany until 2008. He closed down the team after the water company decided to end its sponsorship. In October 2008, team leaders Stefan Schumacher and Bernhard Kohl tested positive for the blood boosting drug CERA.
Holczer has always denied any knowledge of what his riders were doing and later wrote a revealing book about his time as the Gerolsteiner manager. He has most recently worked with Skoda and their involvement in cycling.
Tchmil has had mixed fortunes as the Katusha manager. Joaquin Rodriguez ended the 2010 season atop the UCI WorldTour ranking but the team struggled to be competitive in the classics with Filippo Pozzato. The Italian is set to leave at the end of the season.
Tchmil served as Minister for sport in Moldova but would hold a far more influential position is he became the president of the European Cycling Union. The position is currently held by Wojciech Walkiewicz from Poland, who was elected in 2009.
The UEC is one of five continental federations. It represents 48 European country members and organises the European Cycling Championships. The history and traditions of European cycling give it far more influence and power than the other continental federations. Each continental federation president has a place on the UCI Management Committee.
The Presidency of the ECU could be a springboard for Tchmil to challenge for the role of president of the UCI, perhaps replacing Pat McQuaid.