The UCI ProTour Licences Commission has announced that Russian outfit Katusha will be the newest ProTour team in 2009. The squad have been granted a three-year licence.
The announcement follows heavy investment and recruitment by Katusha over the past year. Similarly to the Astana outfit, the team will be sponsored by national brands such as commodity companies ITERA, Gazprom and Rostehnology.
The ProTour Commission also announced that six teams would be continuing their involvement with the UCI's premier road series. It has extended the licences of French teams Cofidis (2009) and Française des Jeux (2009-2010), Belgium squads Quick Step (2009-2011) and Silence-Lotto (2009-2011), Bjarne Riis' Saxo Bank - IT Factory (2009-2011) and Dutch mainstays Rabobank (2009-2012). A decision is still pending on applications submitted by Euskaltel-Euskadi and Bouygues Telecom.
The Licences Commission also granted a four-year UCI ProTour licence (2009-2012) to Belgium's Gent-Wevelgem event, while licence requests for Belgian Spring Classic Tour of Flanders, Dutch Classic Amstel Gold Race and the Tour of Benelux will all be considered and an announcement made in the coming weeks.