The deal for Spanish two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso to rescue the financially stricken Euskaltel Euskadi cycling team has collapsed, both parties confirmed on Monday.
The Basque team had previously announced that a deal had been agreed “in principle” for Alonso to fill a funding gap in their sponsorship after they lost 3.5 million euros (US$4.7 million) of local government funding due to spending cuts.
News emerged that a sponsor had been found in the form of Alonso, but the two-time Formula One world champion said a deal could not be reached.
“We tried right to the end, but it was impossible to maintain a cycling team in 2014,” Alonso said in a statement, before reiterating his determination to fund a team. “My passion for this sport, and the desire to work together and put in our grain of sand remains intact, this is just the beginning of the future. From tomorrow we will start building from nothing a team that we can be proud of. It couldn’t be, but it will be. This adventure has just begun. Now we look to 2015.”
The team’s main sponsor, telecommunications company Euskaltel, had filled the funding gap themselves this season, taking their contribution to 7 million euros of the team’s 9 million euros budget.
However, the firm said that level of investment was unsustainable and it announced last month that the team would be shut down at the end of the season should another sponsor not be found.
With the breakdown in negotiations it appears as if the last hope to save the 19-year-old team has disappeared.
“The negotiations between Euskaltel and the representatives of Fernando Alonso for the acquisition of the cycling team Euskaltel Euskadi on behalf of the Asturian driver, which began with an agreement in principle on Aug. 31, have ended without an agreement,” the team said in a statement. “For Euskaltel it is sad news that after the hope generated by the agreement in principle, a definitive agreement has not been formalized to guarantee a professional future for the members of the team and to reward the fans that have been loyal until the last moment.”
Despite the uncertainty over the team’s future, Euskaltel achieved their first ever victory in the team classification of a Grand Tour in this month’s Vuelta a Espana.
? WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
AP, FLORENCE, Italy
Severine Eraud of France won the junior time trial at the Road Cycling World Championships on Monday, to add to her European and national titles.
Eraud was 2.69 seconds quicker than Australian Alexandria Nicholls over the 16.19km course, finishing in 22 minutes, 42.63 seconds.
Another Australian, Alexandra Manly, was third, 8.17 seconds slower than Eraud.
Nicholls had been first on the course and held the lead for most of the day, while Eraud was the last starter. The 18-year-old powered through the second half of the course after being 13.5 seconds behind Nicholls at the intermediate check.
“I knew I was only fourth fastest and so didn’t think I could win and was aiming for the podium,” Eraud said. “That made victory amazing and unexpected.”
Damien Howson of Australia dominated the men’s under-23 event and was nearly a minute faster than his closest rival.
Howson rode the 43.46km course in 49 minutes, 49.97 seconds, finishing 57 seconds ahead of Yoann Paillot of France and 1:10 faster than Olympic omnium champion Lasse Norman Hansen of Denmark.