F1 Driver Fernando Alonso Prevents Euskaltel-Euskadi Cycling Team's Demise With Buyout
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso has reached an agreement to save "stricken" Spanish cycling team Euskaltel-Euskadi from extinction, according to the PA. Alonso has "a keen interest in cycling and had held talks over a buy-out of the team having been saddened by news of their imminent demise." Alonso said in a statement on his website, "After various days of intense negotiations between both parties, carried out with maximum discretion, we are pleased to announce that the Spanish sportsman has reached an initial agreement to buy said cycling team and so avoid its demise." Euskaltel-Euskadi was due to "cease competing at the end of the season due to a lack of funding, bringing to an end nearly two decades of professional riding" under the Euskaltel-Euskadi banner. The team was previously co-funded by the government of Spain's Basque region, but "financial pressures in Spain affected their input and a second sponsor could not be found" (PA, 9/2). In Barcelona, Miguel Martínez reported Alonso will buy Euskaltel-Euskadi's licensing in the WorldTour, cycling's top league. Only 18 teams, "including two in Spain, have this licensing." The Euskaltel-Euskadi "acquisition project will have a budget" of €6M ($7.9M), which will "be covered by Alonso's sponsors." The agreement is "already sealed" (EL PERIODICO, 9/2).
ECONOMIC HARDSHIPS: REUTERS reported the team is "comprised mostly of Basque riders." Telecom Euskaltel "surprisingly announced" that it would no longer "support the team, in part down to co-sponsors opposing the decision to allow more non-local professionals into the squad, not helped by Spain's economic crisis." Like La Liga side Athletic Bilbao, Euskaltel-Euskadi "had come to represent the heartland of Spanish cycling and was widely regarded as one of the top teams on the Tour." But the team has "never won a Grand Tour, which will surely be the focus of Alonso and his advisers for the coming seasons" (REUTERS, 9/2).