With the Tour de France and other three week races no longer part of the ProTour, some are questioning the future of the series. However there are strong indications of interest from other areas, with Russia being very heavily involved. That country's cycling federation president Alexander Gusyatnikov spoke to Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes recently about the plans for a new ProTour team and also the Tour of Sochi, which will begin in May 2009.
It's an exciting time for Russian cycling. Rumours of one, possibly two ProTour teams in 2009 plus an already-confirmed ProTour race in the country means that the sport will be moving forward and expanding there.
On Tuesday's Tour de France rest day in Pau the team currently known as Tinkoff Credit Systems will hold a press conference to announce details of its plans for 2009. Riders such as Gert Steegmans and Filippo Pozzato have been tipped in the media as having already signed, while the team is known to be chasing other big-name riders. A large increase in budget is expected, as well as a change in the title sponsor and the taking-out of a ProTour license.
In addition to this, the running of a new ProTour event was confirmed in April and will take place in the Sochi region, most likely from May 20th to 24th 2009. Both of these developments are part of a major push to develop cycling there.
Cyclingnews met with the Russian Cycling Federation president Alexander Gusyatnikov in recent weeks, getting the inside view on these and other developments. He spoke at the headquarters of the Russian Olympic Committee in Moscow's Luzhnetskaya Naberezhnaya area, where the national cycling federation is now based.
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