The dispute between Team Katusha and the Russian Cycling Federation on one side and the UCI on the other seems set to escalate into a full-blown crisis tonight with the news that Katusha's feeder team, RusVelo, has had its application for a UCI Professsional Continental licence for 2013 referred to the UCI’s Licence Commission.
RusVelo's application will be heard by the Licence Commission next month, and as yet there has been no confirmation as to whether it is linked to the refusal to grant the senior team, ranked number two behind Sky, a UCI WorldTour licence for 2013, reportedly for ethical reasons and not financial ones as originally thought.
Team manager Viatcheslav Ekimov has insisted that the issues outlined in a Gazzetta dello Sport article this morning are incorrect, however, and that the actual stumbling block surrounds the team's anti-doping poilcy - although some might argue that riders failing doping controls and being implicated in the ongoing Padua investigation in Italy are very much a reflection of that.
Katusha, which is itself by no means certain even of securing a Professional Continental Licence, is taking its case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but with the UCI WorldTour season beginning a month tomorrow with the Tour Down Under, the current uncertainty is already having a knock-on effect with reports that the team will not receive a wild card entry for that race.
Like Katusha, RusVelo, which began racing this season under a Professional Continental licence, comes under the umbrella of the Russian Global Cycling Project, financed by energy billionaire Igor Makarov who is also president of the Russian Cycling Federation, the FVSR, and who sits on the UCI’s management committee.
Last week, the FVSR unsurprisingly backed Katusha’s stance against the UCI , issuing a very strongly worded statement, and this evening’s news about RusVelo will add to the growing tension between the national federation and the global governing body.
The omission of RusVelo from the list of teams confirmed today as having secured a UCI Professional Continental licence overshadowed the fact that Spanish outfit Andalucia, which raced in September’s Vuelta under a wild card, had been refused a Professional Continental licence for 2013 and has instead been invited to apply for third division UCI Continental status.
There teams confirmed today as having satisfied the conditions for Professional Continental licences, which confers with it the right to apply for wild card entries to WorldTour races, are Italy’s Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox, the French team Bretagne-Séché Environnement, and Chinese outfit Champion System.
Given the controversy over Katusha's problems, the UCI's announcement this evening concludes with the supremely understated sentence: "The Katusha team, initially rejected from the UCI WorldTour (first division), can apply for a place in the second division."
The full list of teams currently in possession of a UCI Professional Continental licence for 2013 is:
Accent Jobs-Wanty (Belgium)
Androni Giocattoli (Italy)
Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox (Italy)
Bretagne-Séché Environnement (France)
Caja Rural (Spain)
CCC Polsat Polkowice (Poland)
Champion System (China)
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits (France)
IAM Cycling (Switzerland)
Team Europcar (France)
Team Netapp-Endura (Germany)
Team Novo Nordisk (USA)
Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise (Belgium)
UnitedHealthCare Professional Cycling Team (USA)
Vini Fantini (Italy)
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.