Katusha team manager Andrei Tchmil has confirmed to Cycling Weekly that Britain’s Ben Swift did not turn up for a meeting in Italy on Tuesday to clarify his future at the Russian team.
The 23 year-old from Rotherham would like to join Team Sky for 2010 and the new British team is keen to have him but Swift still has a year to run on his two-year neo-pro contract.
Swift came through the British Cycling Under 23 Academy system and quickly showed his huge potential by winning a stage at the Tour of Britain and going close to other victories in the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta Pais Vasco.
Swift has the potential to be a future hilly classics winner and would bloom as part of the Team Sky set-up but Tchmil is determined to make him respect his UCI-registered contract.
“He didn’t turn up and he hasn’t been in touch,” Tchmil told Cycling Weekly, somewhat amazed by Swift’s behavior.
“I thought Ben was a nice person, who’d be intelligent enough to know that he has to respect his contract but it seems that he’s been distracted ever since Pozzato hit the brakes to let him win at the Tour of Britain.”
“British people are renowned for being well educated and honest but it’s very disappointing how he’s behaving.”
Tchmil denied being in talks with Team Sky to release Swift and reiterated that Swift would not be allowed to buy himself out his contract so that he could move to Team Sky.
He also threatened to stop Swift racing in 2010 if the dispute is not resolved but refused to give details of any possible fine or punishment for Swift after he failed to attend the meeting in Italy.
“He’s never got in touch with us and we’ve never had contact or negotiations with anyone from Team Sky,” Tchmil said.
“Swift is under contract with the team until the 31st of December 2010, and he will stay in the team even if that means he won’t race in 2010.”
“A decision on disciplinary action remains an internal matter until we’ve reached a final decision.”
Cycling Weekly has tried to contact Swift and Rod Ellingworth several times but both failed to answer telephone calls.
Katusha block Swift’s move to Team Sky