Fernando Alonso commits to setting up pro cycling team - but not until 2015

Formula 1 driver reveals plans after negotiations to buy Euskaltel-Euskadi licence break down

by Simon_MacMichael   September 24, 2013  

Fernando Alonso (CC licensed by Ryan Bayona)

Formula 1 star Fernando Alonso has confirmed he has lost the fight to save the Euskaltel-Euskadi team, now set to be wound up at the end of the year, but has pledged to pursue his dream of setting up his own professional cycling team - although if the project is realised, it will not race until 2015.

The Ferrari driver revealed his plans following a day on which it had been confirmed that his negotiations to buy out the UCI WorldTour team's licence from management company Basque Pro Cycling had come to nothing due to a dispute over the extent of the contracts he would take over.

After reports appeared in the Spanish press yesterday, Euskaltel-Euskadi's management confirmed it would begin an "orderly shutdown" of the team, which has been part of the pro peloton for almost two decades.

In a statement released via his Twitter account yesterday evening, two-time world champion Alonso insited he would press ahead with plans to set up a team, saying:

We've tried it until the end but it's just been impossible to have a cycling team in 2014. My passion for this sport, my will to co-operate and do my bit remains intact, so this is only the beginning of the future. From tomorrow morning we are going to work on building, if needs be from scratch, a team we can be proud of. The best cycling team we can form, respecting the sport and with humility. As you may have observed I', quite tenacious, and above all, I love and value this sport a lot. It possesses and transmits, as I said many times, values that I shar, a set of values that I would like to help promote. Cycling and its fans deserve the best and now we have time on our side, time in which we'll be very attentive to any circumstances we can learn from and, above all, that can make us better for next year. It wasn't to be, but it will be! The adventure has just begun. Let's look forward to 2015!

The collapse of the deal to rescue Euskaltel-Euskadi - Alonso was reportedly prepared to pay €2 million a year for the next three years to buy out its WorldTour licence - means that the project will start from scratch.

Yesterday, the Spanish sports daily AS reported that ahead of the termination of talks with Euskaltel-Euskadi, the driver had already approached the UCI to see if he could secure a new WorldTour licence for his team next season, rather than taking over the existing one of the Basque outfit.

He was told, however, that such a team could not start at a level higher than second-tier Professional Continental. Assuming the same would apply in 12 months' time, that may make it difficult to attract top riders, since the team owuld not have guaranteed entry to WorldTour races and would have to rely on wild cards.

Moreover, the 12-month hiatus means that the core of Euskaltel-Euskadi riders around whom he aimed to build his team - Alonso had pledged to honour the contracts of 14 of them - may not now be available, with the likes of Samuel Sanchez and Igor Anton seeking teams for 2014 and beyond. 

 

 

12 user comments

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He was told, however, that such a team could not start at a level higher than second-tier Professional Continental

Have they changed the rules since Leopard and Radioshack then?

posted by atlaz [172 posts]
24th September 2013 - 6:13

12 Likes

atlaz wrote:

He was told, however, that such a team could not start at a level higher than second-tier Professional Continental

Have they changed the rules since Leopard and Radioshack then?

And Sky for that matter

posted by bauchlebastart [98 posts]
24th September 2013 - 7:48

17 Likes

I'm pretty sure that Sky and Radioshack used wildcards to get into the grand tours in 2010.

Velodan68's picture

posted by Velodan68 [3 posts]
24th September 2013 - 9:06

14 Likes

Such a shame, it seemed like a such a fairy story ending for the team. It's also a shame Alsonso couldn't funnel his 30+ million euros a year salary from Ferrari towards saving the whole team.

posted by Not KOM [79 posts]
24th September 2013 - 9:52

10 Likes

The problem is the attitude of the team. It wanted to remain completely as it is now, even the current management people. Alonso wants to own/lead a team, not to invest into an existing team.

In fact, I would not pay a cent to this team as it is now because it has received too much from our taxes, as many other teams do here in Spain, and they spent them without thinking in the future, in a situations without the support of the government. The managers have been very comfortable by spending the money without trying to find new sponsors, and it is not a good approach, as it has been demonstrated with its crash.

posted by pedromj [5 posts]
24th September 2013 - 10:09

14 Likes

Didn't he say he was going to set up a cycling team a couple of years ago too? It makes me wonder whether the talk of 2015 will come to anything either.

posted by Sadly Biggins [268 posts]
24th September 2013 - 10:15

12 Likes

Not KOM wrote:
Such a shame, it seemed like a such a fairy story ending for the team. It's also a shame Alsonso couldn't funnel his 30+ million euros a year salary from Ferrari towards saving the whole team.

That's a bit of a petty comment, why should he?

Do you have an issue with Richard Branson not rescuing the team? Bill Gates? Arnold Schwarzenegger? Any other wealthy person?

He offered to buy out their license and keep the riders contracts safe, Basque cycling wanted him to front up for everyone and everything, why the hell should he?

Surely if the team is circling the drain financially then something isn't working. Nobody in their right mind would decide that keeping everything the same is the best move, it would simply be throwing good money after bad.

posted by farrell [1843 posts]
24th September 2013 - 10:26

10 Likes

On reflection, my comments does come across a little petty.

I have no problem with him sweeping in and saving the team, in fact it seemed perfect to me (I'm a bit of a Flonso fan, generally.)

I guess what I meant was, considering that he is very wealthy, that they couldn't work out a way of saving the team, even if that meant taking on some dead weight. I'm not sure how much more it would have cost, and it's not like he doesn't have the money to do that.

However, your point about the team failing is a good one. I wonder if it had been possible to take on the team as it stands and then make the changes once they had been saved. Like a new football club owner buying everything and then getting rid of the players and manager he didn't like as part of a rebuilding process. Maybe it would have cost more, but the team would have survived.

I don't know. It's just a shame to lose Sammie Sanchez and the orange jersey's. I've always had a soft spot for them.

posted by Not KOM [79 posts]
24th September 2013 - 11:40

10 Likes

Not KOM wrote:
I have no problem with him sweeping in and saving the team, in fact it seemed perfect to me (I'm a bit of a Flonso fan, generally.)......It's just a shame to lose Sammie Sanchez and the orange jersey's. I've always had a soft spot for them.

I'm not a "fan" of Alonso as I have no interest in Formula 1 but my opinion of him based on recent events is that he seems like a decent fella. I desperately wanted the carrots, for a change, to stay up but it strikes me that Basque cycling have made a horses arse out of this.

To revisit your football analogy it's like someone buying out a football team, agreeing to keep the current squad and manager but the previous board wanting to stay on.

posted by farrell [1843 posts]
24th September 2013 - 12:33

15 Likes

I think he tried to set up a team lead by Alberto Contador but then Alberto picked up his ban so the plan collapsed.

posted by Bagpuss [104 posts]
24th September 2013 - 15:18

8 Likes

Not KOM wrote:
On reflection, my comments does come across a little petty.

I have no problem with him sweeping in and saving the team, in fact it seemed perfect to me (I'm a bit of a Flonso fan, generally.)

I guess what I meant was, considering that he is very wealthy, that they couldn't work out a way of saving the team, even if that meant taking on some dead weight. I'm not sure how much more it would have cost, and it's not like he doesn't have the money to do that.

However, your point about the team failing is a good one. I wonder if it had been possible to take on the team as it stands and then make the changes once they had been saved. Like a new football club owner buying everything and then getting rid of the players and manager he didn't like as part of a rebuilding process. Maybe it would have cost more, but the team would have survived.

I don't know. It's just a shame to lose Sammie Sanchez and the orange jersey's. I've always had a soft spot for them.

I can definitely understand your point of view but if I was the "savior" of a cycling team I would expect to get what I wanted given that the collapsing team isn't in a great bargaining position

posted by jarredscycling [457 posts]
24th September 2013 - 15:22

9 Likes

a strong, clean and focussed new Spanish team would be a great addition to the World Tour. Alonso has no doubt been working on this behind the scenes for a while and I'm sure it's better not to get rushed into an uncomfortable situation, otherwise it will not be a long term prospect. The vagaries of sponsoring have shown us how quickly a team can find itself on its knees. We want the right people with the right attitude and obviously the financial clout.

posted by Metjas [338 posts]
24th September 2013 - 19:48

6 Likes