Katusha will move its license from Russia to Switzerland for the 2017 season, according to general manager Viatcheslav Ekimov, who is also looking for a new co-title sponsor.
The team, owned by Igor Makarov, reportedly has one of the largest budgets in professional cycling, but Ekimov revealed finding a suitable Russion co-sponsor has not been easy.
Only five Russian riders will reportedly be kept on the team next season, with Ilnur Zakarin, Viatcheslav Kuznetsov, Matvey Mamykin, Maxim Belkov and Pavel Kochetkov the chosen few.
“Formally, we [will be] considered the Swiss team. But everyone knows that the project was originally Russian, the word ‘Katusha’ in the title is safe and [we will] add the name of the new sponsor,” said Ekimov, quoted on sports.ru.
“I would like to clarify the situation and, to some extent, to apologize to the fans and say that we are intensively looking for sponsors in Russia, in business, at the state level, but no one, but Igor Makarov, is ready to invest in the team.”
Katusha have been busy in the transfer market so far, bringing in German time trial powerhouse Tony Martin from Etixx-Quick Step, Tinkoff’s Robert Kiserlovski and BMC’s Rick Zabel from the WorldTour.
Also joining are Portuguese Jose Gonçalves (Caja Rural), Dutchman Maurits Lammertink (Roompot Oranje Peloton) and Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie-Bruxelles). Exciting young talents Mads Würtz of Denmark and Jenthe Biermans of Belgium have also penned contracts for 2017.