The UCI's Licence Commission has registerd Katusha as a second division UCI Professional Continental team for the current season. The decision is entirely separate to the outcome of the Russian outfit's appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport regarding the earlier decision of the UCI Licence Commission to refuse it a top-flight UCI WorldTour licence for 2013. Should Katusha win that, another team will have to drop out of the WorldTour to make way for it, the UCI has told road.cc.
UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani confirmed to road.cc that the Professional Continental licence was granted to Katusha at a meetiung of the Licence Commission last night, but stressed that it had no connection with the ongoing dispute regarding the non-awarding of a WorldTour licence. No date for Katusha's hearing on that issue has appeared on the CAS website as yet.
Carpani added that should Katusha's appeal be successful, seven or eight teams - he was unable to immediately recall the precise number - would have to begin the WorldTour registration process all over again, and that one of those would lose its place, since there can only be 18 WorldTour teams, not 19 which there would be if Katusha were readmitted.
With the WorldTour season due to start next week with the Santos Tour Down Under, it's a far from ideal situation for the sport to find itself in.
Until that matter is resolved, Katusha's status in effect remains unclear; as a Professional Continental team, it would have to rely on wild card entries to the sport's biggest races, and despite finishing last year as the world number-two ranked team, it has already missed out on and invitation to the Giro d'Italia, although organisers RCS Sport have given it a place in Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-Sanremo and the Giro di Lombardia.
Joaquim Rodriguez, who won the latter last season and also finished on the podium in both the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta, has made the Tour de France his biggest priority for 2013. As things stand, without WorldTour status there is no guarantee Katusha will ride the Tour, and the Spaniard has been linked by the press to several other teams.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.