Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, the former manager of the now-defunct Euskaltel-Euskadi team, had some pointed words about Formula One driver Fernando Alonso, insisting that he is being “poorly advised” in his entree into cycling.
Alonso was set to take over the Euskaltel project last fall, but negotiations collapsed, with Alonso deciding to regroup to build a team from scratch to be ready for the 2015 season.
Few details have come out of the breakdown between Alonso’s team and Euskaltel, but Galdeano spoke to the Spanish daily AS about his view of what happened.
“I cannot understand how someone who is going to invest 17 million to 20 million euros, who wants to make a big project, yet doesn’t know how things work,” Galdeano told AS. “Alonso is ill-advised. He was surprised when the UCI told him he wouldn’t be WorldTour the first year. He needs to be better advised, because cycling is as complicated, if not more so, than Formula One. He thought he could come with money, and do what he wanted to. It’s not like that.”
Alonso said in a recent interview with L’Equipe he regretted that talks collapsed with Euskaltel, yet did not reveal the point of acrimony between the two parties.
“When the negotiations with Euskaltel collapsed in the last minute, I was sad to not to be able to be ready for 2014,” Alonso told L’Equipe. “On the other hand, we might have moved forward without the best level of competition. It was already at the end of September, and it was getting late to try to create the team we want to. At the end of the day, I am happy and I prefer to build the team my way.”
Alonso said he wants to do things “his way” and build a top team ready for 2015.
Galdeano said the takeover proved more complicated than Alonso expected, and said the Basques are not to blame for the failure to close the deal.
“Euskaltel presented the things as they were and does not have any fault,” he told AS. “Alonso was in over his head. He had his own ideas, and when he saw what Euskaltel offered, he didn’t want it. He precipitated. I believe that Alonso is poorly advised, and continues to be.”
With the exit of Alonso, Euskaltel folded at the end of the season.
The collapse of the unique Basque squad, which nurtured homegrown talent from the cycling-rich region in northern Spain, came following an acrimonious power struggle within the team.
Ahead of the 2013 season, Galdeano took over as team manager, forcing out team founder Miguel Madariaga, with increased backing of the Euskaltel telephone company to assure the team’s presence in the UCI WorldTour.
The new management broke the team’s long-running policy of signing only Basque riders, something Galdeano described as a “disaster.”
“If you asked me today if I would sign foreign riders, I would say no,” he said. “Everything was a disaster. The project was promoted, then it stopped, then it was destroyed. If you ask me if I would do it all again, I would say you’d have to be crazy. I lost a lot.
“I was thrown into the lion’s den, and I shouldn’t have done it,” he continued. “They should have picked someone else from outside the circle, and things might have gone better. I took because it was an offer I couldn’t refuse, but I suffered a lot and I learned a lot. I’ve earned a ‘PhD’ in labor conflict. It was terrible.”
By July, both of the team’s principal backers told riders they did not have enough money to continue supporting the team.
Galdeano said he laments the collapse of the Euskaltel franchise that dates back nearly two decades.
“I am not the one who destroyed this project,” Galdeano said. “I’ve ended up as the scapegoat, and that’s something I accept, but this project ended without anyone knowing why.”