With no solution to Euskaltel's lack of sponsors in sight, several teams are allegedly contemplating merging with the team or buying their license outright.
According to trustworthy Basque daily El Correo, Italian WorldTour outfit Lampre-Merida are keen on merging with the team. The proposed merger would see six to ten of Euskaltel's riders staying on with the new team, while the rest of the roster would be made up of Lampre's existing riders and/or new signings.
Igor Antón has already been linked with a transfer to the team, and it's believed the team's Basque sports director Joxean "Matxin" Fernández is keen on either merging with Euskaltel or taking on some of its riders.
14 of the Euskaltel riders have contracts in place with the team's license holder Basque Cycling Pro Team for 2014 and beyond (among them the Izagirre brothers, Mikel Astarloza, Mikel Landa, Igor Antón, Mikel Nieve and Samuel Sánchez). With six to ten spots allegedly reserved for Euskaltel riders on the Lampre-Euskaltel project, the majority of those spots would naturally be taken by those with a contract stretching beyond the current season.
The likelihood of the merger actually going through is though unknown at the time of writing. El Correo claim the Euskaltel team heads aren't too keen, but it's thought the 'offer', either official or unofficial, hasn't been rebuffed just yet.
Photo: Iñaki Azanza