Katusha riders will be scattered across three continents as the Russian squad opens the 2010 season.
The team will split its squad between the Tour Down Under in Australia and the Tour de San Luís in Argentina. The remaining riders will converge in Spain for a training camp.
The Russian-backed ProTour team did well in its inaugural season, winning 24 races despite injuries to the usually prolific Robbie McEwen and two doping cases that threatened the credibility of the team.
The season highlights were the Italian national title by Filippo Pozzato and the Amstel Gold Race victory by Serguei Ivanov. The veteran Russian later won a stage at the Tour de France.
Katusha saw quite a turnover ahead of the 2010 campaign, though the core remains the same, with Filippo Pozzato and a once-again healthy McEwen complementing the Russian duo of Vladimir Karpets and Serguei Ivanov.
The team sees strong reinforcement with the arrival of Joaquim Rodríguez (ex-Caisse d’Epargne) and Alexander Kolobnov (ex-Saxo Bank), two attacking riders who are capable of winning stages and one-day races. Kim Kirchen (ex-Columbia-HTC) will bolster the team’s Ardennes classics squad and give the team an extra option at the Tour de France for a run at the top-10.
Gert Steegmans (RadioShack) and promising British rider Ben Swift (Sky) will be missed in the sprints while Toni Colom and Christian Pfannberger both tested positive for banned performance-enhancing drugs to blight the team’s inaugural season.
In all, nine riders join Katusha for 2010 following the departure of eight riders.
Tour de San Luis – January 10-26
Sport director: Serge Parsani
Tour Down Under – January 17-24
Sport director: Dmitry Konychev
Training camp in Calpe, Spain – January 9-21
Sport directors: Cozzi, Leysen, Mikhailov