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Negotiations between Formula 1 star and team management hit problems over contracts

Fernando Alonso’s preliminary agreement to buy out Euskaltel-Euskadi’s WorldTour licence is reported to have been torn up due to fundamental differences between the Formula 1 star and the team’s management on a range of issues. According to cycling insider blogger Inner Ring, the team has confirmed it is now proceeding with an "orderly shutdown" and will disappear at the end of the season.

Alsonso had been hailed as the team’s saviour when it was announced earlier this month that he planned to buy out its WorldTour contract from its management company Basque Pro Cycling Team, as well as taking on 14 of its riders, including Samuel Sanchez.

That preliminary agreement, announced on 2 September, reportedly envisaged Alonso paying €2 million a year for the licence for the next three seasons, although the figures have not been confirmed.

However, according to a report on the website of Spanish sports daily AS, Euskaltel-Euskadi insisted that he also assume responsibility for other contracts, including those of team staff including its management, while also honouring contracts with bike supplier Orbea and clothing firm Bioracer.

But Alonso was reported to have already appointed former pro Kiko Garcia, currently working for eyewear firm Oakley, as its manager and was looking to hire his own coaching staff.

Another potential stumbling block was said to be Alonso’s wish to move the team from the Basque region to Asturias – both he and Sanchez hail from its biggest city, Oviedo – and it is also said that the motor racing driver is concerned about Euskaltel-Euskadi’s finances and wants an audit carried out.

AS adds that Alonso approached the UCI to enquire whether he can acquire a WorldTour licence directly without taking on the one currently held by Basque Pro Cycling, but wa told that his team would at best have to start one tier below at Professional Continental level.

Current Euskaltel-Euskadi riders such as Sanchez and Igor Anton could have to find new employers for the 2014 season – unlikely to be a problem for riders of that calibre, although less heralded names on the roster could struggle to secure a contract at this stage.

Meanwhile, another Spanish WorldTour team, Movistar, was also said to have been “severely hampering” the deal – AS does not go into details of just how – apparently due to fears that potential sponsors would prefer to be associated with a team in which two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso is involved, as well as because it believed that the cost of Spanish riders could become inflated.

In August, Euskaltel-Euskadi revealed that it was set to fold at the end of the season following almost two decades in the sport after it failed to secure a replacement sponsor for the Basque institutions that previously supported it, forced to slash budgets as a result of Spain’s economic crisis.

A statement released at the start of this month announcing Alonso’s plans to take on the licence cautioned that there was a race "against the clock... in order to be capable of starting the first races of the 2014 season with a new team, full of desire and with a fighting spirit."

While there is no official statement as yet on Euskaltel-Euskadi's website regarding the team being wound up, the latest news from Spain appears to confirm that Alonso, winner of 32 Grands Prix, has failed to take the chequered flag this time.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

12 comments

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charlie bravo [50 posts] 3 years ago
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Not just close but finished altogether going by the usually reliable @inrng source on tw@er

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Simon_MacMichael [2493 posts] 3 years ago
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Thanks, story updated.

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Super Domestique [1615 posts] 3 years ago
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That's a shame.

How much clout can another team have when it comes to this though? (Thinking on the movistar comment)

Surely very little. Otherwise one team could complain that another has better riders!

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atlaz [241 posts] 3 years ago
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It may be that Movistar are informally advising staff about their employment rights (not a bad thing) ensuring that contracts must be honoured etc.

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jarredscycling [456 posts] 3 years ago
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How on Earth could you screw up a deal with the only possible outcome of not getting the deal is that your squad collapses? I mean what kind of bargaining position do you think you could possibly be in??? Way to screw this up and see a team have to disband. Cycling team owners can be nutters.

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Not KOM [79 posts] 3 years ago
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What a shame - it all looked so good there for a moment ... bye bye Euskaltel, you're eye melting bright orange will be missed in the Peloton...

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atlaz [241 posts] 3 years ago
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Well my guess is that realistically, the main problem is the finances. I'm sure this late in the day Alonso would be happy enough treating 2014 as a building year then launching "his" team in 2015. It will be a case of finding out if there's hidden debts, shareholders, assets, who owns what etc and that this hasn't happened to the satisfaction of Alonso's legal and financial team.

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nemysys [49 posts] 3 years ago
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A great shame... The team will be missed.

"Euskaltel-Euskadi insisted that he also assume responsibility for other contracts, including those of team staff including its management, "

this usually means opening a can of worms....

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notfastenough [3722 posts] 3 years ago
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jarredscycling wrote:

How on Earth could you screw up a deal with the only possible outcome of not getting the deal is that your squad collapses? I mean what kind of bargaining position do you think you could possibly be in??? Way to screw this up and see a team have to disband. Cycling team owners can be nutters.

Agreed, what a bizarre situation. You have to ask - who, of those in the current team, thought it was better to close down altogether than simply agree to Alonso's terms?

So he (Alonso) stood to inherit the riders and the license. He wanted to move it to Asturias, which would have severed ties with the Basque region. (I assume the sponsors were withdrawing anyway) So why object to only some people keeping their jobs, if the alternative is that none do?!

Oh, and the Movistar link is really odd. No idea what's going on there.

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Alan Tullett [1570 posts] 3 years ago
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Maybe this is why Spain has about 25% unemployment, (officially)!

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Leviathan [2613 posts] 3 years ago
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Oh dear, Well seems like Alonso wanted a clean slate and the old team wouldn't give it to him. Faced with No job or No job the management have sunk the ship. Or is Alonso trying to pick up a top team on the cheap and parachuting himself into a controlling position?

The truth as always lies somewhere in between and everyone will find new jobs, some for more money, some for less.

One less tainted 'old' team name can't help to move the sport on unless you a Basque Ultra. http://www.dopeology.org/teams/Euskaltel-Euskadi/

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PJ McNally [591 posts] 3 years ago
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atlaz wrote:

hidden debts, shareholders, assets, who owns what etc

Exactly. Sounds like he wanted the team auditing before he put any money down (reasonably), and they said no.