GP Sochi to feature in WorldTour in 2013

Katusha's team manager Andrei Tchmil walked in the start village

Katusha's team manager Andrei Tchmil walked in the start village (Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)

Officially Andrei Tchmil is at the Tour of Beijing this week to manage his team, Katusha, of which he is the president until the end of the year, but he is also there in an unofficial role scouting for the GP Sochi, which is to be added to the WorldTour in 2013.

As a strong man of cycling in Russia and an intermediary with the political power, Tchmil will be an essential part of the new race. "Yes, I will organize it and we are already working on this", Tchmil told Cyclingnews.

The Russian GP Sochi ran from 2005 to 2008 at a 2.2 ranking, but was to be promoted to the then-ProTour in 2009. Before it made the jump, the race was postponed because of the economic crisis.

The race has now been scheduled for 2013. Cyclingnews understand it will be an eight-day event, which would start the 20th of April and end on the 27th.

Tchmil is in China to see how the newest WorldTour race is being run. "I can see the difficulties and the good points. I am trying to understand how to organize such a race in a country which has a little cycling culture. What I can see in Beijing is very interesting."

Global Cycling Promotion, the commercial arm of the UCI which organizes the Tour of Beijing will also be behind the GP of Sochi, also confirmed to Cyclingnews that Tchmil "will play a key role" in the Russian event.

This means Katusha's president may step down as the head of his squad at the end of the year, giving the power to ex-Gerolsteiner manager Hans Michael Holczer. He will still remain highly involved in Russian cycling. The Katusha team is part of the activities of "Russian global cycling project" which was launched in 2009 with the aim, among others, to support a big Russian cycling race.

It seems Tchmil will have a strong position in the project along with current president Igor Makarov, who is the CEO of gas and petrol company Itera, the president of the Russian cycling federation and since last month a member of the UCI management committee.

Contrary to the initial plan of a course drawn around Sochi, the race is now supposed to go through the main cities of the country.

Asked if the race would be a sort of "Tour of Russia", Tchmil said, "It would be a GP of Moscow, a GP of St. Petersburg and a GP of Sochi."

The exact route is unknown, but the former Lotto professional says the start might be given to St. Petersburg or Moscow and the finish settled in Sochi. With Moscow some 650km from St. Petersburg in the North and 1360km from Sochi in the South, the eight-day race will likely include some sizeable transfers.

With the Caucasus Mountains likely featuring in the queen stage, and a finish near the Black Sea, the new WorldTour event might evoke Paris-Nice. Indeed, like the French city of the Côte d'Azur, Sochi is well appreciated by tourists both in winter and summer and is based between hills and sea.

Sochi, the biggest resort city of Russia, will also host the Winter Olympic Games from the 7 to 23th February 2014.

"The new race is a perfect opportunity to promote the Olympics one year before", Tchmil says.

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