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Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) climbs with Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) at the Tour of the Basque country
UCI's number-one rider unsure of next step
The news that Team Katusha would not receive a renewal of its UCI ProTeam license and a place in the WorldTour came as a shock to not only the cycling community but the team itself.
Most were led to believe either Argos-Shimano or Team Saxo-Tinkoff would miss out on a ProTeam license, not the team led by the world’s number-one-ranked rider Joaquim Rodríguez.
The UCI has stated the Russian team now has the option of applying for a Professional Continental license. Katusha has not yet received all the information explaining the refusal of its license application and until the specifics are known, Rodríguez prefers not to comment too much.
"I do not know how it works and, until it we have clarity, I prefer not to say anything because everything you say can go against us. I'll see. Hopefully that is resolved," reported Biciclismo.
Rodríguez amassed an impressive list of results this year that included second-place overall at the Giro d’Italia, third-place at the Vuelta a España while he closed the season with a win at the Giro di Lombardia.
Without a spot in the WorldTour, Rodríguez will have to rely on wild card entries for his potential Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España campaigns. It's a familiar situation that led fellow Spaniard Alberto Contador to suggest he may not target the Tour de France - prior to Team Saxo-Tinkoff team receiving a ProTeam license.
"It was very good," reflected Rodríguez on his 2012 season. "Hard to repeat. I'm very happy with how it went. Having lost the Vuelta and Giro means I am close. I would like to fight again for a big one. I'll see. I'll settle for trying to win."
Former winner of the Vuelta and this year’s second-place finisher Alejandro Valverde expressed his surprise on the ProTour license omission while Alberto Contador also commented on the unexpected outcome.
"I'm surprised but that’s all I can pretty much say. Surprising because he finished second in the Giro, third in the Vuelta and has won many important races" said Valverde.
"It was a thing that I never thought could happen. I am surprised," added Contador.
It is unknown whether Rodríguez may seek to annul his contract for 2013 and join a team already approved for the WorldTour in the coming season. The Spaniard had previously stated he was likely to sign a contract extension that would see him ride the next two years at the team. However, with no ProTeam license and reliance on wild card entries, he may seek a more secure option elsewhere.