Two Italians – Filippo Pozzato and Danilo Napolitano – will lead Team Katusha for the Tour of Qatar, February 1 to 6. The Russian team aims for at least one stage win from Napolitano and to provide a base for Pozzato's Classics' campaign.
"It will be my season debut and it is important to find the race rhythm. I think it will be ideal to refine my preparation prior to the Classics," said Pozzato.
Pozzato and Napolitano joined Katusha at the end of 2008. The team was formed from the old Tinkoff Credit Systems' structure. Its directeur sportif for Qatar will be Serge Parsani.
"We will go to Qatar with a competitive team and will will try to win a stage with Napolitano," said Parsani. Napolitano won the fifth stage in 2008.
The race consists of six stages that are almost all suited for sprinters. However, the opening stage is a six-kilometre team time trial.
"We will try to do well in the team time trial because we have a formation adapted to this speciality."
Pozzato benefited from the team trial in the 2008 Vuelta a España with Team Liquigas. He helped the team win the stage and he wore the leader's golden jersey for one day.
"We will try to find the right mechanism and to clock a good time. It could be a good test for the opening team time trial of the Giro d'Italia," said Pozzato.
The Tour of Qatar will consist of 17 teams of eight riders. Besides Pozzato and Napolitano, Katusha will take Mikhail Ignatiev, Alexei Markov, Guennadi Mikhailov, Denis Galimzyanov, Alexander Serov and Ben Swift.