Katusha team manager Andrei Tchmil has hit back at Denis Menchov after the Russian rider claimed he had been treated unfairly during contract negotiations with the team this summer.
Menchov was widely expected to become team leader at Katusha and a figurehead for Russian cycling but opted to join the Geox-TMC team. At the weekend he told the Biciciclismo website he was disappointed with the way he was treated by Tchmil.
“I think I deserved a different attitude. As it is a Russian team and a national cycling project, I think it could have behaved differently with me and not the same as though I were any other rider on the market,” Menchov said.
Tchmil responded with a long open letter, claiming he was snubbed during negotiations despite personally travelling to Barcelona to meet Menchov. He ended his letter by saying Menchov will never have a place in the team, if continues to be managed in this way.
“I really doubt that a smart person like that rider could have expressed such an opinion without some pressure, also because I’ve followed him carefully as a rider – I went to Barcelona to talk with him in person – and as a man,” Tchmil said in the letter issued by the Katusha team.
“If to be treated in a better way” means more money, then – as far as I know – I have to admit that our basic offer was much higher than his current salary at Geox-TMC, and I’m confident that we could have reached an arrangement. And not because he’s a Russian rider but because I think he’s really worth it.”
“I work for the good of the Team, and we have not only a sport goal, but also a social one too. Menchov would have been welcome but despite the promises of his agent to talk about his signing after Tour de France and Barcelona, I did not hear from anybody. While I was awaiting a meeting and I was considering a draft proposal from his agent, I discovered the official announcement of his agreement with Geox. I realized that maybe some other factors were behind the negotiations, things that even Menchov himself didn’t know about. It was not a matter of money or consideration; otherwise I would surely have been invited to begin negotiations.”
“There is a lot of discipline in our team for sure, I won’t deny it. We demand to know what is going on in the team. That’s why we agreed to work with the Mapei Centre and why we included in all of our riders’ contracts a penalty clause which demands the payment of five times their salary if they’re find guilty of using doping substances. Lots of agents don’t like this policy, but whoever wants to be part of this team must accept it and all riders are considered equal: Russians, Italians, Spanish, French and Spanish.”
“I think that we’ve lost the sense of discipline in sport in recent years. The same discipline that was strong in my time. Team Katusha expect this discipline and we don’t accept any whims from riders and their agents or even our management. To make sure our project grows and develops, everybody have to conform to these rules, and go beyond their personal ambitions. If these are my responsibility, then I’m happy to be considered guilty.”
“I don’t honestly believe that this topic deserves all this attention. Team Katusha has its plans and so does Geox. I wish Menchov a successful season but would just like to add, because I still admire him, that there will never be a place for him at Team Katusha while he continues to be managed in this way. I hope that Denis Menchov reflects on this.”