Following the Russia-Ukraine war, Team Gazprom-RusVelo has decided to suspend all of its activities and has also put all of its riders on the market as the aftermath of the war continues. All the team members have been freed from their contractual obligations and Team Manager Renat Khamidulin has accused UCI President David Lappartient of sitting idly and not helping them survive during these tough and trying times.
We will continue searching for a new title sponsor. Together with a new team partner we will be able to immediately come back to racing under a new name and together decide which country our international team will be representing. pic.twitter.com/K9jrimhD6P
— Professional Cycling Team (@RusveloTeam) March 28, 2022
The UCI has been very strict on these decisions, and this is not the only sport where the Russian athletes got banned. In early March, FIFA banned all Russian and Belarusian teams from participating in any kind of event, and games. Later on, UCI banned all Russian and Belarusian teams following the Ukraine invasion.
The aftermath of this war has been terrible, to say the least, Russians that have nothing to do with the war are suffering. Since they got banned, Team Manager Khamidulin was desperately looking for sponsors to cover the cost of €4 million but all efforts have been in vain.
We’ve suspended all activity as we said we’d do. We’re still looking for a sponsor but there’s nothing concrete in place and so I can’t ask the 52 riders and staff to wait any longer.
It’s tragic because we’ve got a perfectly functioning team structure, with team cars, team buses, bikes and equipment, and riders who are able to win. Mathias Vacek won a stage at the UAE Tour and on Sunday Alessandro Fedeli finished second at the GP Industria in Italy.
The team’s main sponsorship came from Gazprom Germany, which is a subsidiary of Gazprom in Russia. The team even went to new heights to race in blank white jerseys to show that they are ready for acquisition, which too failed. UCI has even refused to increase the 31-rider team size limit which will help the Gazprom-RusVelo riders.
The UCI wanted to punish a Russian team but they’re penalizing riders from Italy, Norway, Spain, and even Costa Rica. Even if three or four of the riders find new teams, all the others, 18 or so, are going to be left on the street. That’s not right. I’ve also got a mechanic from the Ukraine and Russian staff who have wives from Ukraine, who have lost their jobs there. They’re desperate.
That’s why I ask: where’s the UCI? Why won’t they help to keep the team alive under a different nationality?
I’ve never had a clear response to my appeals. Yet I’ve seen that the French president Emmanuel Macron has spoken about trying to find a diplomatic solution for the war between Russia and Ukraine. Macron speaks but Lappartient hasn’t spoken. Why not?
The UCI is not playing fair with these new rules and regulations. Certain criteria should be set in place to help riders of different nationalities get sponsorship in case something like this happens. There has been no official word from UCI yet on this matter!
Featured Image Via Twitter/RusveloTeam