Team news: Roompot closes, Katusha to remain involved

Another team folds at the end of 2019 while Russian backers vow to stay involved in merger with Israel Cycling Academy

More movements in what’s been a busy fall in terms of team dynamics: Dutch Professional-Continental team Roompot-Charles announced Friday it will close at the end of 2019, while Katusha’s backers vow to remain involved in the peloton.

Roompot-Charles entered the peloton in 2015, and fielded a mixed team of full of Benelux all-rounders and sprinters. It never earned a bid to start one of the season’s three grand tours and won a handful of races each year. It raced 2019 with 18 riders, including WorldTour veterans Lars Boom and Pieter Weening.

“After five exciting years, we say goodbye to cycling professional, “said team manager Michael Zijlaard. Management cited a lack of sponsorship dollars from principal backer Roompot Vakanties behind the closure, and vowed to help riders and staff find new jobs.

The team’s last race will be the Sluitingsprijs Putte-Kapellen on October 16.

The news comes as Spain’s Euskadi-Murias also confirmed it will be closing at the end of 2019, along with the merger between Katusha-Alpecin and Israel Cycling Academy.

Officials from Katusha confirmed Friday the Russian company will merge with Israel Cycling Academy as part of a three-year deal that will assure the Israeli team a spot in next year’s Tour de France thanks to Katusha’s WorldTour license.

Though the deal still needs to be approved by the UCI, officials said the Israel Cycling Academy will manage the new-look team that will include many riders and staff currently under contract with the Russian outfit. Katusha will remain a partner of the new team and as such will continue to provide high-end quality clothing to pro riders as it did for the last three years, a press release stated, but Katusha-Alpecin will cease as a stand-alone team.

Katusha also confirmed it will be working with an existing women’s team in 2020. Team founder Igor Makarov, already a member of the UCI Management Committee, will continue working at the “highest level of the sport.”