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Team manager, Hans-Michael Holczer
German manager could be replaced by Ekimov
According to a report published in L'Equipe on Monday, the manager of the Russian Katusha outfit, Hans-Michael Holzcer, could be leaving the team in the coming days. Reportedly, the squad's leading rider, Joaquim Rodriguez, has been unhappy about the alleged lack of support from the German following his Tour of Lombardy victory, as well as about his 2013 contract, which wasn't re-negotiated according to his true market value.
"When we extended Joaquim's contract to 2013 [announced on April 22, 2012 - ed.], it was supposed to be re-negotiated according to his results, but then things became complicated," the rider's manager Ángel Edo told Bicicilismo earlier this month. "We were supposed to have a meeting with Holczer, Igor Marakov [President of the Itera Group - ed.] and sports director Valerio Piva at the Worlds, but Makarov didn't show up. Now, everyone says the other is responsible for the situation."
Edo added that the arrival of Holczer, signed only one year ago to replace Andrei Tchmil, had been the starting point of tensions between Rodriguez and team management.
"With Andrei Tchmil, this wouldn't have happened, he was a fair person. The contract was revised, but remained under Joaquim's level, who's had other proposals. Without Freire and Rodriguez, the team wouldn't be in the WorldTour."
Amongst other victories, 'Purito' Rodriguez won the Flèche Wallonne and the Giro di Lombardia this season, several stages in the Giro d'Italia as well as in the Vuelta a Espana, claiming podium spots at both Grand Tours and the points classification at the Giro. He finished his 2012 racing programme leading the UCI ranking.
According to L'Equipe, Holzcer could now be asked to leave, with former rider Vjatcheslav Ekimov a likely replacement for the German.