Katusha-Alpecin have confirmed their 24-man roster for the forthcoming season and will unveil it officially in Germany at the start of December. The roster has been reduced by two riders from 2018, continuing a trend of teams carrying smaller rosters for the new season.
There have been quite a few changes at Katusha, with six riders coming in and eight leaving this winter as they to revive their fortunes after a disappointing season. While Marcel Kittel’s difficulties were the most high-profile issues for the squad, the team as a whole failed to live up to expectations. Ilnur Zakarin also struggled in his ambitions, managing ninth at the Tour de France and 20th at the Vuelta a Espana.
Katusha-Alpecin scored just five victories in 2018 – compared to their 17 the season before – and finished 17th out of 18 in the WorldTour rankings. Kittel provided two of the wins at Tirreno-Adriatico, Nathan Haas took one at the Tour of Oman, Nils Politt took a stage of the Deutschland Tour and Tony Martin won the German time trial title.
Kittel, Haas and Politt will remain with the team next year but there has been a raft of departures. Chief among them is Tony Martin, who leaves the team for LottoNL-Jumbo after just two years with the team. Maurits Lammertink is heading to Roompot-Charles, Tiago Machado to Sporting Tavira, Marco Mathis to Cofidis, Baptiste Planckaert to WB-Veranclassic Aqua Protect and Jhonathan Restrepo to Manzana Postobon. Robert Kiserlovski is retiring while Maxime Belkov, who is not on the list of confirmed names, has not confirmed his plans for 2019.
With their list of incoming riders, the team has looked to shore up their roster in key areas. Daniel Navarro moves over from Cofidis after six seasons with the French squad. He is getting towards the end of his career but will provide some important support in the mountains for Zakarin, having been a domestique for Alberto Contador in the past. They have also signed promising young climber Ruben Guerreiro from Trek-Segafredo.
In the sprints, they have brought in Jens Debusschere, who will also provide options in the cobbled Classics. Debusschere finished fifth at Gent-Wevelgem and 10th at Paris-Roubaix this season. Enrico Battaglin also arrives for 2019. The Italian has spent the last three seasons at LottoNL-Jumbo and returned to form with an uphill sprint victory in the opening week of the Giro d’Italia at Santa Ninfa.
Katusha-Alpecin have also taken on two neo-pros with Harry Tanfield and Dmitry Strakhov stepping up to the WorldTour with the team next season.
The official team presentation will take place on December 7 in Koblenz, Germany.
Katusha-Alpecin for 2019: Enrico Battaglin, Jenthe Biermans, Ian Boswell, Steff Cras, Jens Debusschere, Alex Dowsett, Matteo Fabbro, José Gonçalves , Ruben Guerreiro, Nathan Haas, Marco Haller, Reto Hollenstein, Marcel Kittel, Pavel Kochetkov, Viacheslav Kuznetsov, Daniel Navarro, Nils Politt, Simon Špilak, Dmitry Strakhov, Mads Würtz Schmidt, Willie Smit, Harry Tanfield, Rick Zabel, Ilnur Zakarin