By Gregor Brown
Team Katusha is preparing for its first season with a training camp in mid-December. The Russian ProTour formation will meet in Southern Italy to plan 2009, which will likely include all three Grand Tours.
"We are working in a mode that will allow us to be invited [to the Grand Tours]. We are doing all we can to show to the organisers that – even if we are a ProTour licensed team – we can show well at the Grand Tours," said Team Manager Stefano Feltrin to Cyclingnews.
The Grand Tours and their associated races are on the historical calendar, which falls under the World Calendar with the ProTour races. The exact invitation process for the historical races is not clear at the moment.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) announced Katusha amongst a list of seven ProTour new or renewing teams yesterday. The team rose steadily as Tinkoff Credit Systems and, with a change of sponsors, it was able to sign top riders. The team boasts Filippo Pozzato, Robbie McEwen, Gert Steegmans and Vladimir Karpets.
The new signees will meet with the Tinkoff riders of 2008, like Russian Mikhail Ignatiev, at the first of its camps for the New Year.
"We will hold our first camp in the second week of December in Toscana, near San Vincenzo. We will have one in Spain in January too. We a have a team racing Tour Down Under and the rest will stay at the camp. We are not sure [of the exact dates]; we will also take a look at the calendar to decide."