With a large crowd of sponsors, journalists, friends and family on hand in Benidorm, Spain to welcome Team KATUSHA ALPECIN, the full roster of riders and sports directors were presented sporting the newly branded cycling kit and riding the 2017 Canyon bicycle.
Taking a brief break from the two-week training camp in nearby Calpe, the team presentation was a time to reflect on last year’s successes with outgoing general manager Viacheslav Ekimov, as he noted the 25 victories and 40 podium places for the season. Also welcomed to the stage were new GM José Azevedo and new title sponsor Alpecin with managing partner Eduard R. Dörrenberg on hand to represent the family-owned shampoo company. In addition a hearty welcome and huge thank you was given to Mr. Igor Makarov for his continuing support and sponsorship of the team. As the founder of the KATUSHA brand 8 years ago, his continued dedication and commitment are invaluable to the team and appreciated by all. Team captains Alexander Kristoff, Ilnur Zakarin and Tony Martin revealed the newly branded jersey and Canyon bike for KATUSHA ALPECIN, and offered them as gifts for Misters Makarov and Dörrenberg, the latter happy being title sponsor of the team, facing another step with a clear international orientation in 2017.
The roster of riders was introduced in groups of time trialists, sprinters, climbers and all-arounders, with special goals outlined for the team captains. Current world time trial champion Tony Martin will work to take the yellow jersey on the opening day of the 2017 Le Tour. With the prologue taking place in his native Germany, Martin will focus on earning the first maillot jaune. He will also concentrate on Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix as well as a fifth world title. Ilnur Zakarin will skip the Tour in 2017 and instead fight for general classification results in both the Giro d’Italia and la Vuelta a España. Top sprinter Alexander Kristoff resumes his determination to bolster his wins in the big spring classics, racing all of them up to Paris-Roubaix. Kristoff will look for a repeat victory in Milano-Sanremo (2014) and Ronde van Vlaanderen (2015) as well as wins in E3 Harelbeke and Gent Wevelgem to round out his palmares.
New general manager Azevedo is pleased with what he’s seen this week in camp: “Things have come together faster than I expected especially with all of the new people. We have 40% new people in the team for the riders and we also have changes on the staffing side. It can take time for the new people to integrate into the system and understand how things work. But right away after our first small camp in Italy last October, I went home and felt very positive about what I had seen. In only four days I saw people developing a good connection. Now in Calpe we have had another week to work together and I’d say everyone feels part of the group now. This is very important to me. The atmosphere and mentality in the group is good.”
Several riders returned to the stage sporting the new KATUSHA Sports collection of clothing. Last year brought the introduction of the new line featuring both cycling and lifestyle clothing, with input and feedback from various team riders proving invaluable to the development of the performance line. The latest collection was revealed and offered on display for the appreciative audience.
Concluding the night was the presentation of the full roster of riders and directors. Declaring the season officially open, Azevedo shared his vision for the team, saying, “I want us to work together to bring one identity of KATUSHA ALPECIN. The message we share with the world is that we work with passion, that everyone here loves cycling and we will be fighting to win races.”
Riding for Team KATHUSA ALPECIN in 2017 are 26 riders from the 14 countries of Austria, Belgium, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland.
Roster: Maxim Belkov, Jenthe Biermans, Sven Erik Bystrøm, José Gonçalves, Marco Haller, Reto Hollenstein, Robert Kišerlovski, Pavel Kochetkov, Alexander Kristoff, Viacheslav Kuznetsov, Maurits Lammertink, Alberto Losada, Tiago Machado, Matvey Mamykin, Tony Martin, Marco Mathis, Michael Mørkøv, Baptiste Planckaert, Nils Politt, Jhonatan Restrepo, Simon Špilak, Rein Taaramäe, Angel Vicioso, Mads Würtz Schmidt, Rick Zabel and Ilnur Zakarin.
Guiding them are General Manager José Azevedo and the returning sports directors Claudio Cozzi, Xavier Florencio, Dmitry Konyshev, Gennady Mikhaylov and Torsten Schmidt.