Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Alonso set to go big with Euskaltel in 2015

While Euskaltel fans are excited and rightly so to see what's in store for 2014, Fernando Alonso's new team is only expected to fully take shape in 2015.

The news of the Formula 1 star - second in Monza this past weekend - taking over the reins at Euskaltel has been met by almost unanimous praise in the cycling community. However, few, if anyone, really knows what the team will look like.

What is clear, though, is that all 14 riders with a contract in place for next year are almost guaranteed to stay on into 2014 and beyond. These 14 riders are: Samuel Sánchez, Igor Antón, Juan José Lobato, Mikel Nieve, Jon Aberasturi, Peio Bilbao, Mikel Landa, Ion Izagirre, Rubén Pérez, Romain Sicard, Egoi Martínez, Gorka Verdugo, Garikoitz Bravo and Miguel Mínguez.

All of them will likely be on Alonso's books next year, but seeing as several of the aforementioned riders have been negotiating with other teams lately, that's still to be formally decided. Two of them, Juan José Lobato and Igor Antón, are thought to have opted to stay despite being in advanced negotiations with other teams prior to Alonso buying the team's license.

Former pro Kiko García will, though still not officially hired, be one of the team heads alongside Igor González de Galdeano.

Speaking to BiciCiclismo, García says the 14 riders on contracts will form the backbone of the team next year, and that, if necessary, they'll take on riders with UCI points to their name in the winter to fulfill the UCI's sporting criteria.

García was coy on what will happen with the riders whose contracts expire this year, only saying that "we'll for sure bring in 10-12 new riders".

As we're already in September, those riders are unlikely to be big-name GC contenders or sprinters. As a consequence, 2014 will by all accounts be a transitional year.

"For us it's about doing the best we can with what we've got in 2014, and then make a big leap forward in 2015 towards a bigger and more international project".

Rumours have it that Alberto Contador is keen on joining 'Samu' and Alonso on their 'super-team', but that appears to be more likely in 2015 at the earliest.

According to Alonso himself, "it's important we go step by step. Hopefully we'll be able to create a solid and professional team, a team that's capable of attracting big-name riders", he wrote on his Twitter account the other day.

As for what the future holds for Euskaltel's current staff and back room employees, no one knows at this moment in time.

The same goes for the team's location. Initial reports had it that the team would be based out of Asturias, where both Sánchez and Alonso hail from, but that won't necessarily be the case.

According to Luis García Abad, one of Alonso's representatives, nothing's been decided.

"It's premature to talk about that", he told El Correo. "The team's headquarters is right now in Bilbao, and we'll opt for the place that makes the most sense from a logistical viewpoint once we've got sponsors on board. If an American sponsor comes on board, for example, it would be logical to go to the US".

Colnago have been linked with supplying the team with bikes, but that's also nothing but rumours, says García Abad.

"We haven't decided anything - absolutely nothing. We'll figure that out when we're in a position to make a decision".

A decision is also yet to be taken on who'll manufacture the team's jerseys. Euskaltel's current provider, Bio Racer, inked a two-year deal with the team last winter, meaning they might well stay on into 2015.



Josh Buehner said...

this will be a very exciting next couple of months!

-Keep Orbea!
-Keep it as Basque as you can!!
-Keep Tamu!!!
-Wear Etxeondo!!!!

azanca02 said...

bring back txurruka

Stephen said...

Txurruka is having a good year isn’t he? When he left he said how hard it was to always ride for others, now he has more freedom he’s finishing in better positions and is now 27th on GC, one place behind Nieve.

Living in the UK both Etxeondo and Bio Racer are invisible brands, hard to get hold of and very expensive when you do (that’s Etxeondo actually; I only know one stockist and they are 60 miles away. I have never seen any Bio Racer kit apart from Euskaltel) so I’d prefer that they went back to Moa/Nalini.....then again, if it’s not what it was I might not bother anyway...

Yep, keep Orbea....I love my Orca, I don't think I have ever owned anything that has given me as much pleasure...I did an event on Sunday with 1300 others and amongst the Trek/Spesh/Boardman etc it really stands it rides like a dream, which is the point I guess.

Anonymous said...

I to think they should keep Orbea bikes, not only have they been loyal to Euskaltel but like Josh has said the two are linked to SPAIN and this is what the fans want.
Yes keep as many of the Spanish riders = climbers, but would look further for sprinters.
Jim Short.

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