The Katusha team held its official presentation in Moscow on Wednesday night after a private meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin near the Kremlin.
Now in its third season, the Russian team has made further promises to help develop cycling in Russia and will have a ProTeam, an Under 23 and an Under 21 team.
The 30-rider ProTeam roster includes Filippo Pozzato, world number one-ranked rider in 2010 Joaquin Rodriguez, Alexandr Kolobnev and Vladimir Karpets. New signings for 2011 include Leif Hoste, Luca Paolini and Danilo Di Luca, after the Italian completed his ban for doping.The team will use Focus bikes in 2011.
“We strongly believe in this team. In the last few seasons, despite being a young team, we were able to achieve some important results. We're starting our third year and needless to say, the goal is to do even better. We want to do well in the northern Classics and the grand tours,” Team Katusha's President Andrei Tchmil said during the presentation.
Katusha has a reported budget of 15 million Euro thanks to banking from gas companies Gazprom and Itera.
All the riders on the Katusha ProTeam travelled to Moscow for the presentation, except for Di Luca who was unable to obtain a visa in time for the trip after only recently joining the team. Special guest included UCI President Pat McQuaid Igor Makarov, the head of Itera. During the meeting with Vladimir Putin, the riders held a minutes silence to remember the recent victims of the terrorist attack at Moscow airport.
The riders posed for photographs in Red Square before the presentation despite temperatures of -10C. During the presentation Joaquin Rodriguez received an award from Pat McQuaid for topping the UCI world ranking, while Alexandr Kolobnev finally received his silver medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympics following Davide Rebellin’s disqualification for doping.
Filippo Pozzato promised another major classics victory in 2011 after a consistent but quiet 2010 season.
“I’ve got to do better, I’m the first person to know that,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I’ve shown I’m consistent. Now I want to get back to winning the big races. I love Milan-Sanremo but the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix are also up there. The arrival of Paolini in the team, who ride with me at Quick Step and Liquigas, is a big help. I hope to do as well as we did when we last rode together.”
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