UCI drop Team Katusha from 2013 WorldTour line-up

Team Argos Shimano make the step up at Russian super-team's expense

by Tony Farrelly   December 10, 2012  

Vuelta 2012 S2 John Degenkolb wins sprint (copyright Unipublic:Graham Watson)

The music has finally stopped in the annual game of musical chairs that is registration of UCI ProTour Teams for the 2013 season… and the big news is that there is no place for Team Katusha.

The Russian super team with deep pockets and a roster that includes Joaquim Rodriguez, the rider who finished top of the UCI WorldTour Ranking in 2012,  is out, replaced by Dutch outfit, Team Argos Shimano.

Katusha's exit caught many on the hop - with social media commentators treating as fact speculation that Saxo-Tinkoff would be the big name team to lose out right up to the moment the UCI threw its curve ball.

In fact despite all the rumours of Saxo-Tinkoff's imminent demise, the UCI's licensing commission gave the Danish outfit a licence for both the 2013 and 2014 seasons along with the team officially known, (for the time being at least) as the Former Rabobank; Garmin Sharp also got a licence for the 2014 seson.

Interestingly, last year when many observers believe Saxo Bank (as it then was) made the WorldTour cut by the skin of its teeth, it was only granted a licence for the 2012 season.

While it is plain to see why so many thought Saxo-Tinkoff would be out - the team struggled to amass points and the reputations of manager Bjarne Riis and star rider Alberto Contador are tainted by past association with doping in the sport - it is also easy to see, particularly with the gift of hindsight, why the UCI pulled the plug on Katusha.

Viewed from the UCI's headquarters in Aigle, it might be considered that the Russian outfit had thumbed their noses at world cycling's governing body over the past couple of seasons. Worse still, Katusha appeared to be getting away with it.

When Alexander Kolobnev failed a drugs test at the 2011 Tour de France he was immediately sacked by the team - so far, so good from the UCI's point of view. However the team did not enforce the clause in his contract requiring Kolobnev to pay back his salary plus damages for failing the test. The Russian Federation then refused to ban Kolobnev, imposing a fine instead. The UCI subsequently lost its appeal to the Court for Arbitration in Sport over the that decision and it could be said that Katusha then rubbed salt in the wound by re-signing Kolobnev for the 2012 season.

The failed test is not the only black mark against Kolobne;v he has also been implicated in the bribery scandal surrounding the finish of the 2010 edition of Liege Bastogne Liege at which the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera alleges he accepted a €150,00 pay off from Astana team leader Alexander Vinokourov to go easy in the final sprint. Vonokourov won, finishing six seconds ahead of his Russian rival.

Katusha were again involved in a doping controversy earlier this year when the promising sprinter Denis Galimzyanov tested positive for EPO in March.

Nor will it have helped Katuasha's case that in this era of post-Armstrong sensitivity they recently announced the appointment as general manager of Viatcheslav Ekimov, a man so closely associated with Lance Armstrong and the set-up at USPS.

So far there has been no official statement from the team, their website and Facebook page haven't been updated since Friday and their twitter feed @katushacycling since 14th of October. By contrast the team that replaces them in the WorldTour for next season wasted no time in getting a statement up on thier website - it's in Dutch, but we can assume that they are very happy.

Where all this leaves star riders such as Joaquim Rodriguez and Denis Menchov is open to question - it is unlikely the Russian outfit will be able to hang on to them all particlarly as they now have to wait to see if the UCI will give them Pro Continental status.

More to follow, but in the meantime here's the UCI's announcement of the 2013 teams registered to ride the WorldTour:

Registration of UCI ProTeams for the 2013 season

As of 2nd November, the UCI had registered in the first division the teams already holding a current UCI WorldTour licence and whose applications satisfied the registration conditions set out in the UCI regulations.
The following teams were concerned:

- Astana Pro Team 

- BMC Racing Team 

- Cannondale

- Lampre – Merida

- Omega Pharma – Quick Step Cycling Team  


- Sky Procycling 

- Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team

- Movistar Team (UCI decision of 16 November)

In accordance with the UCI regulations, the Licences Commission was requested by the UCI administration to adjudicate on the refusal to register as well as the issuing of the UCI WorldTour licence to applying teams.

As a result of the hearings held on 19, 21, 22, 28 November and 7 December, the Licences Commission has issued a UCI WorldTour licence to the following teams:
- AG2R La Mondiale   2013-2016

- Euskaltel Euskadi   2013-2016

- Former Rabobank   2013-2014

- Garmin Sharp   2013-2014

- Team Argos–Shimano  2013-2016

- Team Saxo – Tinkoff   2013-2014

Finally, the Licences Commission has granted registration for the 2013 season to the following teams:

- FDJ 

- Lotto Belisol

- RadioShackNissa

The request from the team Katusha for registration in first division has been rejected.
In accordance with UCI regulations, this team’s application has been forwarded to the UCI administration, so that the latter may assess the possibility of registering this team as a UCI Professional Continental Team.

The full list of UCI Professional Continental Teams registered for 2013 will be announced at a later date.

17 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Uh Oh.

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1734 posts]
10th December 2012 - 18:34

1 Like

Bit of a joke really.

McQuaid out.

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1734 posts]
10th December 2012 - 18:36


Makarov is going to be FUMING

I loathe Riis and Tinkoff and deeply distrust Bertie. But at least no Ekimov in charge of a ProTour team next season.

posted by Sam1 [220 posts]
10th December 2012 - 18:40


Tony - how many re-writes did that piece go through!

Goes a bit off piste a few times - understandable though with the speculation over the past half hour, seems no one saw that coming.

_SiD_'s picture

posted by _SiD_ [181 posts]
10th December 2012 - 19:19


...has anyone read or edited that article? Its absolutely littered with spelling and sentence construction errors!

Personally I'm glad to see the back of Katusha though Devil

posted by Bigpikle [84 posts]
10th December 2012 - 19:51

1 Like

Hah. A lot. Not so much re-writes as writing it on the hoof and pressing 'save' every few minutes.

We waited until the UCI put out their statement before doing anything cos it's always a bit of a mug's game trying to second guess what they might do. Now I'll go back and fix it.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4202 posts]
10th December 2012 - 20:02


Is my English that bad or are some of those sentences indeed unreadable?

posted by mhtt [45 posts]
10th December 2012 - 20:25


Aye, not half hard working out what was happening, FDJ and Argos were fine, then Lotto.....So that was it, Saxo out......Oh wait a minute, we have a last minute change, Saxo are in, Katusha are out for the time being.....

God knows where its going to end. Thinking

I've had no contact with Katusha since 28th November. I could give them a shout, see if they want to give a statement Wink

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9374 posts]
10th December 2012 - 20:26

1 Like

bad english....? thats unpossible! Big Grin

keith roberts's picture

posted by keith roberts [207 posts]
10th December 2012 - 20:44


I'm sure Katusha won't mind, They told me that my video was very touchable Devil

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9374 posts]
10th December 2012 - 20:56


I'm with you Keith

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4202 posts]
10th December 2012 - 20:58

1 Like

Very sad. J-Rod made the Giro last year for me. Katusha were represented at the top end of GC in both the Giro and Vuelta. Why do they lose out?

posted by tao24 [71 posts]
11th December 2012 - 1:37


Good to see Argos Shimano in the top flight, they're a great team, and big Jon Degenkolb made the Vuelta for me.

posted by Steven_L [48 posts]
11th December 2012 - 11:19


Timmertastic Smile

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1348 posts]
11th December 2012 - 11:51

1 Like

After last year's Vuelta good riddance to Katusha

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1225 posts]
11th December 2012 - 12:47

1 Like

tao24 wrote:
Very sad. J-Rod made the Giro last year for me. Katusha were represented at the top end of GC in both the Giro and Vuelta. Why do they lose out?

J-Rod is free to leave so he'll still be there in 2013. Where he goes will be interesting though!

CraigS's picture

posted by CraigS [135 posts]
11th December 2012 - 18:25


Katusha have come out guns blazing, UCI look out


Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9374 posts]
11th December 2012 - 18:47

1 Like