Katusha will be attacking the early season on two fronts this January.
The Russian squad have sent teams to the Tour Down Under and the Tour de San Luis. While bigger ambitions lay further down the line, directeur sportif José Azevedo says that they won’t be using the season openers for training.
“These are high-level competition races, so it means that results are important,” Azevedo said in a team press release. “It is our responsibility to show our colours. We cannot consider races as training. Of course some riders have goals later in the season, but be assured, in our first races Katusha is ambitious.”
Joaquim Rodríguez will be leading the team’s ambitions in San Luis. The Argentinean race will form part of the build-up to his tilt at the Giro d’Italia in May. He will be supported by Daniel Moreno, who has enjoyed a lot of his own success in recent times, and Giro stage winner Luca Paolini.
Moreno was the highest placed finisher for Katusha last season, in 21st, with Rodríguez finishing almost half an hour down on the winner Daniel Diaz. Purito has remained more cautious than his directeur about his goals for the race.
“It’s a perfect route to build up a good work base. I definitely won’t be starting out to win,” the Spaniard said earlier this year. “The South Americans will be arriving in top form and highly motivated."
The team for the Tour Down Under has a less focused feel to it than the one heading to San Luis. Katusha didn’t ride the first WorldTour race of the year in 2013, due to a dispute with the UCI, which saw them briefly demoted to Pro Continental status.
Eduard Vorganov and Maxim Belkov are the only two from the 2012 team to make their return. Belkov will lead Katusha at the Australian race, but Vorganov will also be looking to improve on his 10th place from 2012.
Katusha team for Tour de San Luis: Joaquim Rodriguez, Daniel Moreno, Alberto Losada, Angel Vicioso, Giampaolo Caruso and Luca Paolini.
Katusha team for Tour Down Under: Maxim Belkov, Eduard Vorganov, Mikhail Ignatyev, Marco Haller, Pavel Kochetkov, Egor Silin and Aleksandr Porsev.