Katusha threaten UCI with court action after WorldTour snub
Katusha are 'ready to fight' after having their WorldTour application rejected.
Last Updated: 12/12/12 11:01am
The Russian outfit had been expected to be accepted into cycling's top tier for a fifth season after finishing 2012 second in the team rankings and with their leader, Joaquim Rodriguez, as the number one rider in the world.
However, despite earlier naming Katusha as one of 15 teams to have met the criteria for a licence, the UCI overlooked the Gazprom-backed team at the last minute and has so far failed to give a reason.
The decision has incensed Katusha, who said in a statement: "The management of Katusha Team, its riders and staff are surprised by such a quick change of decision, lack of coordination inside the UCI press service and a complete absence of reasons for such a fast decision.
"In the nearest future, the management of the Russian team Katusha intends to investigate thoroughly this incident, first of all in order to give all possible explanations to the riders and staff of the team, as well as to choose a future strategy.
"The Russian team intends to defend its interests with the help of all possible civilised instruments and methods, including going to court. Katusha is ready to fight and is stronger than ever."
Teams with licences are able to race in all 29 WorldTour races, which include the three Grand Tours and the season's marquee one-day events.
The UCI awards 18 licences based on four criteria: sporting, ethical, financial and administrative.
It had been expected that the final three licences would be fought out between Team Saxo-Tinkoff, Argos-Shimano, FDJ and Lotto Belisol, but in a shock move, all four were awarded WorldTour places, with Katusha instead being thrown out.
Katusha's statement added: "Team management, riders and staff are extremely surprised by the lack of justification for such a decision made by the UCI.
"The Katusha Team is not retreating from the plans that have been made for the next season and is preparing for the official team presentation, which is scheduled for mid-December 2012 in Italy."
Unless Katusha are able to overturn the decision, they could face losing Rodriguez, who has already stated his discontent at conditions within the team.
UCI rules state that riders are free to leave unlicensed teams, opening the door for the 33-year-old Spaniard to seek employment elsewhere.