MADRID (VN) — Many were surprised last week to see the familiar face of Hans-Michael Holczer back in a Katusha jacket.
At 6-foot-3, the German was easy to spot hanging around the Katusha car during the team presentation last weekend at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Last fall, Holczer was jettisoned from the Russian-backed team in a hasty move that slotted former Lance Armstrong teammate Viatcheslav Ekimov into Holczer’s former position as team manager.
Holczer, 59, told VeloNews that he never really left — at least for not very long.
“They brought me back after three weeks,” Holczer said. “Ekimov and I have switched positions within the team.”
Holczer characterized the moves last fall as “miscommunication” and said that after a few weeks he was back with the Russians. The former math teacher said he and Ekimov have switched positions within the team, with Ekimov taking over the role of general manager and Holczer working as a consultant.
Holczer said his primary task over the winter was to help defend Katusha’s UCI WorldTour license. Late last year, the UCI license commission surprisingly denied Katusha a ProTeam license for 2013. The team won an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport this spring.
The former Gerolsteiner manager joined Katusha during the 2011 season, replacing former manager Andre Tchmil.
Despite a string of doping positives featuring former Gerolsteiner riders, Holczer insisted he was never aware of doping practices within his former team. In March, ex-Gerolsteiner rider Stefan Schumacher said doping was such an integral part of cycling that he likened it to “eating pasta after training.”