Russian Denis Menchov will return to professional cycling as a directeur sportif for Gazprom-RusVelo in 2019, the team announced this week.
Menchov, 40, left the sport presumably due to a knee injury in 2013, having won the 2007 Vuelta a España and 2009 Giro d'Italia. But he was retroactively banned in 2014 by the UCI for biological passport violations and was stripped of his podium spot in the 2010 Tour de France, among other results.
He will be joined at Gazprom-RusVelo by Evgeny Petrov, who was ejected from the 2005 Tour de France on stage 10 for too-high hematocrit.
Team manager Renat Khamidulin chose Menchov, Petrov and Andrey Solomennikov, a former rider for the team, to lead the increasingly young squad.
"There is a significant change of generations in Russian cycling and we are not only facing it, we are in charge of this process," Khamidulin said. "Over the last two years the average age of our riders has been decreasing and next season Gazprom-RusVelo will be one of the youngest in the peloton. There is no doubt that the work on the development of young riders is a highly demanding process.
"That is why, we have specialists whom we can rely on: Denis Menchov, Evgeny Petrov and Andrey Solomennikov are joining our board of sport directors, as well as Michele Devoti is back with the team."
Menchov, who chose not to fight the UCI's ban in order to preserve his privacy, was free to rejoin the sport in 2015.
"In the recent years we have often talked with Renat (Khamidulin) about the possibility of joining the team," Menchov said. "I should admit, it took me a while to make this decision, but of course I am very glad to become a part of the only Russian professional team. I hope my experience will be useful and I will be able to share it with the young riders."
Petrov, who retired in 2016 after a 16-year career ending with the Tinkoff team, said he is pleased to return with the Gazprom team.
"Just two years ago I was competing as a cyclist," Petrov said. "After finishing my career, I knew that I wanted to return to cycling in a new role and be useful for the development of Russian cycling and cycling. Gazprom-RusVelo is a great team with a plenty of talented athletes, which perfectly suited my ambitions. At the moment, we are at the pre-season training camp in Spain, everyone is in upbeat mood and we look forward to starting the upcoming races."
Gazprom - RusVelo for 2019: Ildar Arslanov, Igor Boev, Nikolay Cherkasov, Alexander Evtushenko, Evgeny Kobernyak, Vlad Kulikov, Alexander Kulikovskiy, Alexey Kurbatov, Stepan Kurianov, Denis Nekrasov, Artem Nych, Alexander Porsev, Petr Rikunov, Ivan Rovny, Alexey Rybalkin, Evgeny Shalunov, Sergey Shilov, Mami Stash, Alexander Vlasov, Anton Vorobyev..