Gert Steegmans and Team Katusha may have terminated their contract effective immediately after the Belgian refused to sign the team’s anti-doping charter prior to the Tour de France. Media reports today indicated that the relationship was over, but the team has now it.
Team manager Andre Tchmil “said that there has not been a contract annument,” team press spokesman Andrea Agostini told us. “Steegmans was near our headquarters during the Tour de France, but did not take the opportunity to meet and clarify his position.”
The team put Steegmans on inactive status in late June when he refused to agree to the new requirement, which requires riders to pay five times their salary should they break anti-doping rules.
Steegmans had no comment on the matter.
The 28-year-old has not ridden for the Russian team since the Dauphiné Libéré in June. The team placed him on inactive status when he refused to sign a contract which would require him to pay a fine of up to six times his annual salary if he were convicted of a doping violation.
Several riders objected to the new requirement, but most eventually signed. Kenny Dehaes refused, and was released from his contract in June. He later signed with the Silence-Lotto team.
“Gert never wanted to sign our anti-doping charter,” Katusha Sport Director Jef Braeckevelt told the Belga press agency. “I think this is a good thing for both parties. He can now look forward to a new team where he can ride again. We don’t need to pay him any longer for not riding.”
Steegmans had two wins this season for Katusha, the first at the Trofeo Mallorca and the second in a stage of the Vuelta a Andalucia.
The sprinter turned pro in 2002 with Lotto, where he remained until he joined Quick Step for the 2007 and 2008 seasons. He has won two stages in the Tour de France in his career including the final stage on the Champs Elysée in 2008.
There are 4 Katusha riders in top 30 of the UCI’s World Rankings
Italian sprinter has extended his contract with Team Katusha through 2011, the team announced Monday. Team director Andrei Tchmil was satisfied with the Sicilian’s performance this season. Napolitano won four races this year – one stage each in the Ruta del Sol, Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, Settimana Coppi e Bartali and Tour of Luxembourg. He has also been the primary lead-out man for Robbie McEwen. “He showed his quality and he was able to take the responsibility when it was needed,” said Tchmil. “We also knew his good character and we appreciated it.” “I’m happy to renewal my contract with Team Katusha,” said Napolitano. “I found a good team and thanks to it I was be able to get good results. I hope to continue to improve so I can thank them for the confidence they’ve shown.”
Italian Champion Filippo Pozzato made an attack to join the favourites in an attempt to win Spain’s Clásica San Sebastián Saturday. He joined on the Miracruz climb, but Carlos Barredo made his winning move immediately after on the descent.
“I had faith became I was feeling good,” said Pozzato. “I joined the front riders with less than four kilometres to go because if I had not I am sure that our group would have not re-joined them.”
Pozzato (team Katusha) joined Barredo (Quick Step), Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d’Epargne), Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas), Kim Kirchen (Columbia-HTC) and Pierrick Fédrigo (Bbox Bouygues Telecom). Czech Kreuziger attacked immediately afterwards, at the top of the Miracruz climb.
Pozzato refused to respond to rest his legs for a later attack or a sprint finish. “But then everything broke apart and the tactics started. I risked it, I had hoped for more cooperation.”
Barredo reacted to Kreuziger’s attack. The two rode the final two kilometres together, to the finish along San Sebastián’s waterfront. Spain’s Barredo sprinted ahead of his partner in the final 200 metres.
Pozzato finished sixth and teammate Serguei Ivanov eighth. Katusha teammate, Russian Evgeni Petrov, won the best climbers’ award.
Pozzato finishes sixth in the Tour de France’s stage to Barcelona last month and second in the Paris-Roubaix in April. He won the Italian championship, a stage of Driedaagse De Panne and the E3 Prijs earlier this year.
Katusha for Tour of Poland
Laszlo Bodrogi, Pavel Brutt, Nikita Eskov, Denis Galimzyanov, Serguei Klimov, Guennadi Mikhsylov, Alexander Serov and Danilo Napolitano.
1 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom 4:05:31
2 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
3 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 0:00:34
4 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha
5 Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram
6 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
7 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence – Lotto
8 Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Agritubel
9 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre – NGC
10 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
Starting on a tip of coastline near the town of Béziers, the 178-strong peloton got underway in perfect conditions from Le Cap D’Agde, already 27 degrees Celsius and breezy at the 12:45 p.m. départ réel.
After 29 kilometres, two breakaway groups of three combined to form a lead sextet, including Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Geslin and Hutarovich (Française des Jeux), Sapa (Lampre-NGC), Ignatiev (Team Katusha) and Timmer (Skil-Shimano). When the peloton behind them decided to take to the call of nature, it became a definitive sign that the aforementioned six would be the break du jour.
Forty kilometres in, 8:45 was the distance between break and bunch, and that’s as far as they got; the undulating mid-section of Wednesday’s stage with a pair of Cat. 4 climbs after 112 and 115 kilometres, combined with the inevitable start of the chase-down, inexorably reduced the lead group’s advantage.
Determined not to be caught out in the wind again, Astana and Saxo Bank began assembling their troops at the fore some 80 kilometres from the finish, and when the team of maillot jaune Cancellara started driving in the heavy Tramontane crosswinds, the peloton eventually split, a lead group of 40 forming at the head. This time, however, most of the GC favourites made the move – the exception being Rabobank‘s star climber Robert Gesink, who crashed hard before the mayhem and never recovered, X-rays later revealing he had broken his wrist and ruling him out of starting the following day.
A consequence of the crosswind craziness was that it all but chewed-up-and-spat-out the lead of the early escape. But when those driving at the front let up, realising there was nothing to gain, a regrouping occurred, the break’s advantage went back out to a minute-and-a-half, and stood an even chance of surviving to Perpignan.
Française des Jeux held the upper hand with two in the move – but among them there was someone who’d been itching for a big win ever since he became a household name at the Tour de France, exactly five years ago.
|1||Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom||4:29:35|
|2||Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha||0:00:07|
|3||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC|
|4||Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream|
|5||Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram|
|6||Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Team Katusha|
|7||Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne|
|8||Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|9||Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank|
|10||Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team|