The WorldTour level was, like many feared, a step too far for Euskaltel's Moroccan signing Tarik Chaoufi. The team today revealed that the parties have decided to end their collaboration with immediate effect.
Chaoufi came on board to boost Euskaltel's points tally in the winter as Igor González de Galdeano and co. desperately stepped up their bid for a WorldTour license. While that goal was achieved, turning Chaoufi into a rider at the highest level was not.
The 2012 Moroccan national road race champion struggled to cope with the pace and the distances in Europe, only ever finishing three races with the team (four if you include this year's national champs). The 27-year-old finished mid-pack in the one-day races Clásica de Almería, Handzame Classic and the Vuelta a la Comunidad de Madrid, but failed to complete both stage-races he entered (namely the Volta a Catalunya and the Vuelta a Asturias), as well as the Ronde van Drenthe and the Vuelta a Murcia.
After his difficult first part of the season, the team announced in late May that the rider would take an extended break from the European scene in order to return to his home country to be close to a relative of him who was experiencing health issues.
Chaoufi was intended to return to the Basque Country in mid-August to compete in one-day races in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, but that won't happen.
In a somewhat poetically phrased article on Euskaltel Euskadi's website, Chaoufi allegedly "did not find it easy to be away from home for several weeks.
"Used to living in his familiar environment, to race and return to home ground, he wasn't happy in Euskadi without the warmth of his own people. His days have been long and sad, despite the efforts of his team-mates to make his stay more pleasant and comfortable. They took care of him on training rides and in competition, but the rider failed to cope with lonely evenings, nights away from home, far away from his people", the team's statement reads.
Further, "Tarik wasn't motivated and didn't want to return to Europe. He wasn't ready for spending another six weeks away from home. Therefore, in accordance with the cyclist, his contract has been terminated".
It was not disclosed what Chaoufi's future now holds.