Geox-TMC may have failed to secure a ProTeam licence for 2011, but marquee signing Denis Menchov insists that he does not regret choosing Mauro Gianetti’s team over Katusha. The Russian rider left Rabobank this summer after six years at the team and was disappointed by the tenor of Katusha’s negotiations.
“The situation was a bit strange,” Menchov told Biciciclismo. “Their attitude did not seem the best, but he [Katusha manager Andrei Tchmil] defends their position and I have mine. I think I deserved a different attitude. As it is a Russian team and a national cycling project, I think it could have behaved differently with me, and not the same as though I were any other rider on the market.”
Menchov finished 3rd in July’s Tour de France and is convinced that he would have been the ideal standard bearer for his home country’s biggest team.
“There are national projects such as the one Kazakhstan [Astana] where there was no doubt that Vinokourov was going to ride,” Menchov said. “Or the Sky project: Wiggins had a contract with Garmin and Sky made every effort to ensure that the best British rider was in the national team. Like Andy Schleck and the Luxembourg team. But that wasn’t how it was in my case, and that’s what I found odd.”
Menchov met with Tchmil and Katusha in August to discuss terms but he felt that negotiations should have begun much sooner if the Russian team were serious about signing him.
“In the end I was annoyed because they had at least a year and a half to talk to me,” Menchov explained. “But they said nothing and then came to me in late August with all the other teams, but by then the market was open.
“In Spain or France they have hundreds of riders and Spain has ten riders who can compete in the Grand Tours alone, but in Russia there aren’t as many competitive riders.”
Menchov contrasted Katusha’s approach with that of Gianetti and Geox-TMC: “Gianetti already knew me and he’d already been interested. We had even talked a couple of years ago. They treated me with respect and interest.”
The 2009 Giro d’Italia winner also lauded Geox as a “serious sponsor with serious ideas,” although a report in Saturday’s Gazzetta dello Sport suggested that the Italian shoe manufacturer was already seeking to free itself of its commitment after the team failed to secure one of the 18 ProTeam licences.