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“Taaramae and Zakarin will be our leaders for the Giro; Joaquim, Kristoff and Van den Broeck will do the Tour; and Joaquim and Van den Broeck will also do the Vuelta.”

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ALEXANDER KRISTOFF

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ANGEL VICIOSO

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ILNUR ZAKARIN

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JOAQUIM RODRIGUEZ OLIVER

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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REIN TAARAMAE

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16.12.2015 @ 08:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jose Azevedo will again be the main sports director at Team Katusha in 2016. The Russian team presented its team in Calpe on Saturday and revealed the new image and a new concept. “Now it is not just a cycling team, but a brand," he says. The Portuguese team manager remains ambitious for a team that is again led by Joaquim Rodriguez and Alexander Kristoff. However, Azevedo makes it clear that "a team cannot be based only on the leaders.”

 

In an interview with BiciCiclismo, Azevedo revealed the goals for 2016.

 

“The objectives are to compete for and win all the major races,” he told the Spanish site. “The group of riders has given us many varied options for different types of races: we have Kristoff for the classics, Joaquim (Rodriguez) for the grand tours and this year we will go to the Giro with Zakarin and Taaramae. Spilak is a guarantee for the one-week races and the arrival of Van den Broeck can give us a plus in the grand tours. 

 

“I do not want to make comparisons, but 2015 was a very good year with 40 victories: three classics (Ghent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders and Plouay) and three WorldTour stage races (Basque Country, Romandie, Switzerland), stages in the Giro, Tour and Vuelta ... In short, it was a historic year for Katusha.

 

“Now we start from scratch. I will not say we want to win Flanders, Sanremo or Roubaix but it is an objective, just like the Tour, the Vuelta... All WorldTour races. At least we want to be up there.”

 

The team has already clear plans for the grand tours.

 

“Taaramae and Zakarin will be our leaders for the Giro; Joaquim, Kristoff and Van den Broeck will do the Tour; and Joaquim and Van den Broeck will also do the Vuelta.”

 

In 2015 Yury Trofimov got the chance to lead Katusha in the Giro. This year it will be a testing ground for Zakarin and Taaramae.

 

“They are two young riders,” Azevedo said. “For Zakarin, it will be his second year. Last year he had a quick adaptation. He was in the top 10 from the start andthen won Romandie and a Giro stage. The GC was not his goal which was to gain experience in a three-week race. On the penultimate day he was in the break on the stage with the Colle de Finestre and that proves that he can recover.  Next year's Giro will be his main goal in the first half. Taaramäe is new to the team and we want to test him in a three-week race. We think the Giro is the most suited to his characteristics.”

 

Rodriguez will be the leader in the other two grand tours.

 

“2014 was not a bad year for Joaquim from a performance point of view but injuries and crashes prevented him from being at his normal level,” Aevedo said. “Before his crash in the Amstel, he had won Catalunya but his accident destroyed the Ardennes and the Giro. In the Vuelta he was not at one hundred percent, the preparation was not the best but he was still fourth. He is a rider of great quality and class. He has been on top for ten years. This year he had bad day in the Tour. he lost all his options but then won two stages and was second in the Vuelta. It is true that the years are passing but his performance remains quite good so he is our leader in three-week races.

 

“I think he has a chance [to finish on the podium in the Tour like in 2013] because the route for the Tour is pretty hard and the time trials are tough. As he finished second in the Vuelta in September, it means that he is at the best of his physical abilities. The goal is to think of the podium.”

 

The team’s second leader is Alexander Kristoff who had a remarkable 2015 season.

 

“He is very versatile: he can win San Remo, Flanders or Roubaix and then Plouay or Hamburg that are very different, or the Canadian classics,” Azevedo said. “He is a very strong rider and improved each year. His main objectives in the first part of the year are the classics, from Sanremo to Roubaix. Then he will focus on the Tour and the Worlds in October. It requires good planning because it is a great opportunity for him and he want to be good in Qatar.”

 

Another key rider in the team is Angel Vicioso who has suffered several bad crashes in recent years. The Spaniard is an important domestique in the team.

 

“He's a warrior,” Azevedo said. “It was a difficult time with the crash at the Giro. The first diagnosis was that he could get back to normal life and that cycling was almost impossible. When he began rehabilitation, it changed. The doctors had much to do, but above all it was his endeavor. He has had hard times and was able to return to the bike and his level. We are very confident that Vicioso and Alberto (Losada) will be alongside their leaders. For them the important thing is the team.”

 

This year Katusha wants a more international profile but still has 12 Russian riders.

 

“They are riders with potential: Zakarin has made a step and there are also Chernetsky, Kochetkov, Vorobyev and Mamykin who has just arrived and must be given time. Then there are riders who can work. They are all very important for us because a team cannot be based only on the leaders. It is clear that the key riders are always the leaders. But at Katusha we value all cyclists. It is important that they feel valued and they realize that the victory of their leaders has been possible thanks to their help. They feel that they have a share in the victory. It is our philosophy.

 

“In fact, the team has changed its image, both in color and the logo. Katusha remains a cycling team but the big change is that it is not just a cycling team, but a brand with its own identity. In 2016 the Katusha cycling team is a brand. There is a specific department, Katusha Sport, which develops sports equipment and wants to enter the market.”

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