Thursday, April 05, 2012

"We may be forced to sell riders"

President of la Fundación Euskadi and general manager of Euskaltel, Miguel Madariaga, has said the team might be forced into selling star riders to make up for budgetary shortcomings. In an excellent interview with Marca's Josu Garai, the founding father of the orange team elaborated on the dire state of his team.

"I'm still looking for the 550 000 euros we need to make ends this year", he said. "The outlook is good, but I'm yet to find sponsors willing to come up with that kind of money. The ones who back us now say they'll continue with their support, but they can't up it."

Marca: So why the optimism?

"I'm still waiting for some sponsors to get back to me. There's also a chance some foreign sponsors might be interested in the exposure we get in the three Grand Tours. As well we have four team buses we could sell. And there's one last option: getting rid of riders. It would be painful, but if there's no other alternative... We have five or six riders who attract a lot of interest from other teams."

Marca: Are you serious? Selling riders?

"Yes, for sure. I'm convinced we have many riders who might be worth a lot. Sicard, for example, is highly valued in France, but still has three years running on his contract with us."

With the team's future still up in the air, the riders could be forgiven for starting to look for jobs elsewhere pretty soon. Madariaga admits the riders are starting to get nervous, but informs the riders have agreed to wait at least for another month.

"I met with all the riders on Monday. Samuel Sánchez wondered what was happening with the team, and I get that. I told them all that by the end of April they will know more about the direction this team is taking for next year. Samu, speaking on behalf of his team-mates, said that sounded reasonable. For now I've asked them to concentrate on the Vuelta and the upcoming classics. This is an important month for us."

Rumous have been circulating in the media the last few months that telephone company Euskaltel is likely to continue to back the team - but that the team is likely to look a lot different next year. Abandoning the Basque-only policy that's forever defined the team has been touted as a possibility, but the head of the team, quite extraordinarily, seems to know close to nothing about where his brainchild is heading.

"We don't know what'll happen in 2013, but we're okay and calm. Rumour has it that a new project might be in place for next season."

Marca: "Rumour has it that a new project might be in place"? Aren't you the head of this team?

"No one has told me anything at this point in time. But the Fundación, with the cuts we've been forced to take in 2011 and 2012, obviously can't keep bankrolling the team."

Marca: How can it be they're planning a new team without you involved?

"I know almost nothing about this new project they're talking about. But I've heard from a reliable source that Euskaltel, along with some other backers, might fund it".

Madariaga is set to leave the helm after the current season. There's been a lot of highs over the years, but there's one special moment he cherishes the most - and it doesn't involve the likes of Antón, Samu, Mayo or Zubeldia.

"I'll always remember the stage Agustín Sagasti won in the Vuelta al País Vasco in Azpeitia (1994). It was our very first win. No one believed in us, but since then the fans have counted on us."


arnout said...

This sounds like a final interview before he resigns :(

Quite a weird interview too. Things are looking great, as we can sell the team buses. It's obvious he's getting a bit desperate. And I'm inclined to say that if Miguel can't fix it, no-one can.

That said, could that "new project" have anything to do with the sudden and unexpected departure of Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano?

Interesting times for sure...

Magnus said...

Well, Igor Gonz. de Galdeano is rumoured to be at the head of this 'new project', so hopefully he'll be back next year!


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