Team Katusha – important for Russian cycling
Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin was among
the guests earlier this week as the country’s first fully professional cycling
team, Katusha, convened in chilly Moscow.
Run by former Paris-Roubaix winner Andrey Tchmil, Katusha features some of
cycling’s elder statesmen like Australian Robbie McEwen and Filippo Pozzato of
Italy, as well as younger talents such as former Olympic points race champion
It is the first Russian-owned team to compete in European cycling’s elite,
and will do so as of January 2009 with a 27-man roster.
According to a press statement Wednesday Putin, Moldovan president Vladimir
Voronin and Giro d’Italia director Angelo Zomegnan were in attendance Tuesday
as the team made its official presentation in Moscow.
Held at the headquarters of oil and gas firm Itera, the company’s
president, Igori Makarov, said he was hoping the team’s existence would spark
a golden era for cycling across Russia.
“Finally, Russian cycling has stepped into the professional realm. We have
waited a long time for this moment, and it was necessary to overcome a lot of
barriers, problems and resistance on the way,”
He added: “Katusha is a combination of the social, economic and political
components expressed in sports and is a powerful project supported by serious
partners aimed at developing cycling in Russia, creating possibilities for
young riders and a representation of the glory of our native land.”