The newly-formed Katusha team, built on the Tinkoff squad owned by Oleg Tinkov who recently told Cyclingnews that he would step down from his office as of next year, has great ambitions. According to its directeur sportif, Serge Parsani, the squad wants to become "one of the most beautiful and successful teams in the world."
Parsani counts on the team's younger riders as well as the experienced ones, such as Australian Robbie McEwen, Belgian Gert Steegmans, Italian Filippo Pozzato, Russians Vladimir Karpets and Alexandre Botcharov. "Our youngsters have one more year of experience behind them and we want to be present in every kind of race," Parsani told Belgian La Dernière Heure. "I think that with Pozzato, Ivanov, Gusev, Ignatiev, Steegmans and McEwen, we are equipped to shine in the classics and one-day races."
The team, which has applied for a ProTour licence as of next year, however lacks a true stage race specialist. "We have 28 riders at the moment," Parsani continued. "We could leave it like that – but we might continue to recruit. We are candidates to go to the Tour de France, even if we don't have real leaders. But Botcharov and Karpets could play a role in the general classification, while the others would go for stage wins."
Parsani is very pleased with the present line-up, which includes three sprinters (McEwen, Steegmans and Kenny De Haes). "It's very good them in a team, as it's always important to win a lot," he said. "That's what Pozzato still has to learn, by the way. Winning small races is good for morale. He has to risk more, he races too defensively. I want him to become ambitious and aggressive."
To achieve the aspired success, the team has an impressive budget to finance its racing season. The Russian Global Cycling Project has been allocated a total of €30 million by its main sponsors Gazprom, Itera and Rostechnologii, and will promote Russian cycling over the next five years. "There are four parts [of the project]," said Andre Tchmil, general director and coordinator of the foundation.
"The professional cycling team, but also the creation of a ProTour stage race [the Tour of Sochi due to be held next May - ed.], as well as a development project of the Russian cycling federation and a social project destined to initiate children to cycling. Half of the budget will go to the team. The rest will be split up between the other three parts."
A complete feature on the Katusha team can be found here.