Thursday, January 19, 2012

Basque races endangered

An already slim-looking Basque calendar is facing the dim prospect of losing another couple of races for 2012. According to various Spanish news sources, the GP Miguel Induráin and the GP Llodio are struggling to make ends meet and may be forced to cancel this year's stagings.

According to Diario de Navarra, the organizers of the GP Induráin (local cycling club CC Estella) are finding it hard to come up with the 130 000 euros needed to stage the event. President of the club, Ismael Martínez Monreal, admits it's an unknown if the race will go forward as planned on the 31st of March. "As we haven't yet covered the budget, the race is in danger", he said. "If we can't come up with the money, there won't be a race. We can not go ahead with a 30 000 euros deficit. If we were to that, the teams in the youth category would have to take the burden, and that's not an option. We're waiting to hear what the sponsors have to say, and then we'll have act accordingly."

The Government of Navarra usually coughs up 60 000 euros in support of the race. The economic crisis in Spain hasn't escaped the Basque Country though, so it's expected they'll cut their funding somewhat this year. At present, big-name riders like defending champion Samuel Sánchez, Alejandro Valverde, Joaquím Rodríguez and, quite possibly, also Alberto Contador, have committed to line up.

The GP Llodio, pencilled in for the 21st of March, is facing similar budget shortfalls. DEIA reports the race organizers are still waiting to find out if they'll receive the necessary support from the Provincial Government of Álava. The annual cost of running the region's only professional race is estimated to be 60 000 euros. Losing one of the longest-running races on the calendar would be a hard blow to Basque cycling considering the Euskal Bizikleta, Subida a Urkiola and Bira, to name a few, all disappeared off the radar a couple of years ago.

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