Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Official report: Euskaltel Euskadi is dead

Euskaltel Euskadi released a statement Tuesday morning confirming the team will cease to exist at the end of the current season.

The search for a new sponsor has proved futile, meaning the team, after 20 years on the road, will no longer form part of the cycling peloton from 2014 onwards.

According to various reliable reports, the team gathered all its riders for a meeting at 10:00 am this morning to inform them of the decision taken. All but seven of the riders were able to attend the meeting to receive the dreaded, if expected, news.

"Euskaltel Euskadi will not continue into next season", the team release reads. "A second sponsor, essential to ensure the sustainability of the team, has not come on board. Thus, the continued existence of the team is unfeasible.

An "orderly winding down of the project" will commence immediately, including handing over the release papers to the riders. Four days before the start of the Vuelta a España, all riders are thus free to look for a new job for 2014 and beyond.

14 of the riders - Jon Aberasturi, Igor Antón, Peio Bilbao, Garikoitz Bravo, Gorka Izagirre, Ion Izagirre, Mikel Landa, Juan José Lobato, Egoi Martínez, Miguel Mínguez, Mikel Nieve, Rubén Pérez, Samuel Sánchez and Gorka Verdugo - have contracts in place for next season, while the rest are free agents come the end of the season. Various reports have it that the telephone company will be asked to respect the deals of those 14 if some of them are unsuccessful in their job hunt.

"This is a sad day for Euskaltel, for the team, for the current sponsors, for the supporters and for everyone who have supported the team", the press release reads further. "We regret that no company has decided to back us, the doyenne of the world cycling elite".

The team's economic woes have been long known. The team's license holder, management company Basque Cycling Pro Team, secured a four-year WorldTour license at the start of the season, but in May reports surfaced that all wasn't going to plan.

Austerity cuts forced the public institutions in the Basque Country to cut back on their financial support, leaving the team approximately 3 million euro short of their reported 9 million euro-budget. Euskaltel, the telephone company that is, decided to double their support for 2013 to meet the shortfall, but simultaneously made it clear that they wouldn't be able to sustain that beyond this calendar year.

There have been talks of mergers with several teams, among them Lampre-Merida and American teams Optum Health and UnitedHealthcare, but nothing materialized. It was earlier this week reported that controversial Russian millionaire and businessman Oleg Tinkov was considering purchasing the team's license, but that was subsequently denied by the man himself.

The lack of a new sponsor sees to it that the orange team, after 20 years in business, will close up shop and leave Spain - once the home of a plethora of professional teams - with only one WorldTour team in 2014: Movistar.

The likely disappearance of the Fundación Ciclista Euskadi's Continental-ranked Equipo Euskadi makes the situation for Basque and Spanish cycling all the dimmer. Unless a new team is created in the off-season, only three professional teams from Spain will take to the road in January.

Euskaltel's WorldTour license will be left vacant and up for grabs for buyers, but the team will continue on as normal - in sporting terms, anyway - until the 31st of December.

"We've worked actively these last few months to maintain contact with companies in order to ensure the team's survival, exhausting all possibilities", the statement reads. "Despite the work and effort put in by Euskaltel, both in the Basque Country and internationally, none of the efforts have born fruit".

Photo: BCPT

1 comment:

Josh Buehner said...

Welp. What a punch in the gut.

I hate WT cycling.

Eskerrik asko for everything Euskaltel-Euskadi.


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