After weeks of rumour and speculation, Filippo Pozzato has confirmed that he will leave Liquigas at the end of this season and ride for the newly formed Russian team, Katusha. The team, which has an annual budget of €15 million, is a continuation of the Tinkoff Credit Systems squad owned by Russian millionaire Oleg Tinkov.
Speaking on Italian television after stage 18 of the Tour de France, Pozzato said: "This is a wonderful opportunity for me. Katusha has great confidence in me and has made me a leader. We have a fantastic team for 2009."
Katusha has already secured the signatures of Quick Step sprinter Gert Steegmans and fellow Belgian Kenny Dehaes. The team is part of the €30 million Russian Global Cycling Project foundation, with financial backing from Russian companies Gazprom, Itera and Rostechnologii. It is rumoured to be signing more big name riders for next season, with the likes of Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre and Fabian Cancellara all thought to be possible candidates.
Pozzato began his professional career at Mapei in 2002, before moving to Fassa Bortolo in 2003. After winning a stage in the 2004 Tour de France, the Italian moved to Quick Step in 2005 where he took victories in the Giro de Lazio and HEW Cyclassics Cup. In 2006 he took arguably his biggest career victory at Milano-Sanremo. He has been with Liquigas since 2007 during which time he has notched up wins in the Omloop Het Volk and another Tour de France stage victory.