The Katusha line-up for the Tour de France is set to be composed solely of Russian riders. With Joaquim Rodriguez focused on the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España, and Filippo Pozzato seemingly irrevocably out of favour, the path was clear for team manager Andrei Tchmil to field a wholly Russian team.
“For the first time in the history of Russian cycling, we will present a team at the Tour made up only of Russian riders,” Tchmil said, according to Biciciclismo. “Even the directeurs sportifs will be Russian.”
The final nine riders for the Tour team will only be decided the week before the race begins at the Russian road race championships, but the riders in contention will have a chance to shine throughout June.
“They are just preparing the Tour,” Tchmil said. “These riders will race the Tour of Luxembourg and then the Dauphiné before the national championships, when we’ll decide the nine to ride the Tour.”
Vladimir Karpets will lead the team’s overall challenge, while it seems likely that a Tour debut will be given to the impressive young sprinter Denis Galimzyanov. Alexandr Kolobnev is another man expected to feature in the final nine.
“I think it will be something to remember because Katusha wants us to be a block of riders made up just of Russian riders, which is very good for the sponsor and for the spectators,” Kolobnev said. “It will be special.”