Riders signed to Katusha-Alpecin have been told they can look for new contracts as the team is set to fold at the end of the season, according to reports.
The Russian-Swiss outfit, which formed in 2009, is expected to cease racing at the end of 2019 as headline sponsor Alpecin and bike provider Canyon are believed to be moving their money elsewhere.
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Katusha-Alpecin’s general manager José Azervedo has denied that the team is folding and that he doesn’t know where the rumours are coming from, but he did confirm that Alpecin is leaving as a backer.
Cycling Weekly previously reported that Katusha-Alpecin’s future was in doubt, with French newspaper L’Equipe reporting on Wednesday (July 10) that team bosses had told riders they were free to explore other opportunities.
The 23 riders signed to the WorldTour team were told after the finish of stage four of the Tour de France that they were allowed to search for new contracts with other teams, according to the reports, which also say that Katusha-Alpecin has not registered with the UCI for 2020.
German sponsors Alpecin, a shampoo brand, and Canyon are expected to move their investment to support rising superstar Mathieu Van der Poel, who rides for Corendon-Circus.
Cycling Weekly understands that eight riders from the Katusha, including British national time trial champion Dowsett, already have contracts for 2020.
The team’s general classification leader, Ilnur Zakarin, is believed to be on the move to Greg Van Avermaet’s CCC Team.
Katusha-Alpecin has been through a rough 2019 season, with their star hope Marcel Kittel struggling for results before a public falling out between the German and team management resulted in him leaving the squad and taking an indefinite break from cycling.
Their season was partially saved by a stage victory for Zakarin at the Giro d’Italia, but the team have remained among the worst performing WorldTour outfits.
Katusha-Alpecin have scored fewer UCI points than Professional Continental team Cofidis this year, with Dimension Data the only WorldTour team who have performed worse.