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F1 drivers' manager denies link to Santander...

Despite failing to buy the team licence of the Euskaltel-Euskadi squad, Formula One driver and cycling nut Fernando Alonso is pressing on with plans for his own team, which will be launched at the 2014 Tour de France.

Alonso’s manager, Luis Garcia Abad, has told Italian sportspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport that plans for Team Alonso are well underway.

“Some agreements with sponsors are already signed,” he said, and the team would be launched at “the first rest day of the next Tour [de France]”.

“Fernando has said he wants to bring the best of formula one to cycling, and vice versa,” Abad said. “This means technology, research, marketing, promotion, new tools such as telemetry, a medical centre.

“The intention is to do something new and avoid the problem of doping.”

Alberto Contador, Ivan Basso and Filippo Pozzato have all been tipped as possible members of Team Alonso, but Abad attempted to squash such rumours, saying: “At the moment, we can’t sign any contracts with riders.”

He also denied long-standing rumours that Alonso’s sponsor Santander would come in as title sponsor of the new squad. “It’s better to keep the business of F1 and cycling separate,” he said.

“We’re not talking about any companies currently involved in cycling. We’re turning to companies who are interested in innovation and with an ecological soul.”

Fernando Alonso’s preliminary agreement to buy out Euskaltel-Euskadi’s WorldTour licence collapsed late last month due to fundamental differences between the Formula 1 star and the team’s management on a range of issues.

Alsonso had been hailed as the team’s saviour when it was announced 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.

However, Basque Pro Cycling insisted that Alonso retain team staff including  management; honour contracts with bike supplier Orbea and clothing firm Bioracer; and apparently expressed a strong preference for the team to remain based in the Basque Country and not move to the Asturias region.

Instead of accepting Alonso’s rescue deal, the team instead elected to execute an "orderly shutdown" and close down at the end of the season.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.