Times are tough all over as riders continue to scramble to find rides for 2014.
Samuel Sánchez, the 2008 Olympic champion, is among those still without a contract for the coming season. Speaking to Basque daily Deia, Sánchez confirmed he’s still without a deal.
“As of today, I don’t have any team offering me a contract to keep going,” Sánchez told Deia. “I have my illusion intact. I had a two-year contract, and if I had signed it, it’s because I was motivated and had the strength to continue, both mentally as well as physically. Now I am in a situation that I could not have imagined, and I am without a job for the upcoming year.”
Like many of his teammates on the now-defunct Euskaltel-Euskadi, the 35-year-old Sánchez is looking at unemployment with the demise of the Basque team.
Sánchez had signed a two-year contract extension that would have kept him in an orange Euskaltel jersey through 2015, but with the team’s closure, Sánchez could see his career skid to a stop earlier than he had hoped.
Some expected Sánchez to join Alberto Contador at Saxo Bank for the coming season. They are close friends, but Saxo boss Bjarne Riis said earlier this month there had not been any contact with “Samu.”
Sánchez was among many riders expecting to cross over from Euskaltel to a new project backed by Formula One driver Fernando Alonso. Efforts by Alonso to take over Euskaltel and keep the team alive for 2014 failed, and the Spanish driver is now looking at unveiling his team for the 2015 season, instead.
Those talks ended in late September, leaving many Euskaltel riders and staff scrambling to find contracts very late in the game. (http://www.velonews.com/2013/10/news/nothing-silly-about-the-2013-transfer-season_306001)
Teams are already filling up rosters, with little room to sign the Basque riders. In fact, only six of 27 Euskaltel riders have confirmed contracts for 2014: Mikel Landa (Astana), Mikel Nieve (Sky), Romain Sicard (Europcar), Jon and Gorka Izagirre (both to Movistar), and Ricardo Mestre (Efapel).
Other top names, such as Igor Antón, are still holding out hope, while others, such as Mikel Astarloza, have decided to retire.
Sánchez said the collapse of the Euskaltel team has been difficult.
“I’ve endured it with anguish and sadness, because a family is broken up, and no one nor nothing can do anything to save it,” he continued. “For me, for someone who’s been on the team 14 years, it’s painful.”
If Sánchez does not manage to find a contract, there is still a possibility he could return to racing in 2015 with the Alonso project. Sánchez and Alonso both hail from Asturias in northern Spain, and are well acquainted.