Russian Denis Menchov will return to professional cycling as a directeur sportif for Gazprom-RusVelo in 2019, the team announced this week.
Menchov, 40, left the sport presumably due to a knee injury in 2013, having won the 2007 Vuelta a España and 2009 Giro d’Italia. But he was retroactively banned in 2014 by the UCI for biological passport violations and was stripped of his podium spot in the 2010 Tour de France, among other results.
He will be joined at Gazprom-RusVelo by Evgeny Petrov, who was ejected from the 2005 Tour de France on stage 10 for too-high hematocrit.
Team manager Renat Khamidulin chose Menchov, Petrov and Andrey Solomennikov, a former rider for the team, to lead the increasingly young squad.
“There is a significant change of generations in Russian cycling and we are not only facing it, we are in charge of this process,” Khamidulin said. “Over the last two years the average age of our riders has been decreasing and next season Gazprom-RusVelo will be one of the youngest in the peloton. There is no doubt that the work on the development of young riders is a highly demanding process.
“That is why, we have specialists whom we can rely on: Denis Menchov, Evgeny Petrov and Andrey Solomennikov are joining our board of sport directors, as well as Michele Devoti is back with the team.”
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