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Euskaltel returns as sponsor in Basque cycling revival

One of the main backers of the legendary—and sometimes infamous—Basque cycling team returns to the peloton.

A familiar name will be back in the peloton after Euskaltel and its trademark orange jersey make a return to cycling.

Euskaltel, a Spanish regional telecommunications company, backed the legendary Basque team from the 1990s until it folded in 2013. Its trademark orange jersey—taken from company colors—was ubiquitous in the peloton for more than 20 years. Rowdy Basque fans would line the climbs of the Pyrénées to create an orange sea during the Tour de France each summer.

Basque officials are hoping to revive that legacy. The Euskadi Foundation, with WorldTour pro Mikel Landa as its president, confirmed that Euskaltel will join as new title sponsor as the team hopes to one day race in the Tour de France again.

“The relationship of Euskaltel with cycling and the Euskadi Foundation has been a success story. We want to repeat this great partnership and build the excitement once again that it generated in all the fans,” said Xabier Iturbe, president of Euskaltel. “This team is something unique; it represents an entire country, and we want to form part of it once more.”

The Euskadi Foundation, a cultural institution that backs projects in the Basque region, revived the professional team in 2018. It raced for two seasons in the UCI Pro Continental series, and jumped to the new-look Pro Series in 2020 with 20 riders.

With the arrival of Euskaltel, the team will yet again race with its trademark colors and name that brandished the earlier version of the team in 1990s and 2000s. That team was born with deep Basque roots, but broadened its reach to international riders in its final years as it tried to adapt to a more international peloton. The team eventually folded following a string of high-profile doping cases and loss of sponsorship.

The newborn team hopes to revive the Basque cycling tradition, and has ambitions toward securing a bid to race the 2020 Vuelta a España, and ideally, the Tour de France in the coming years.

Landa took over as president of the Euskadi Foundation, and though he races professionally with Bahrain-McLaren, he’s closely involved with the development of the project.

“The goal is to move forward on the growth track, and the support of Euskaltel will represent a tremendous boost,” Landa said. “We want to return the team to where it needs to be. Cooperation with Euskaltel, as well as the step up to the UCI ProTeam category, are moves in that direction.”

The team will debut is new sponsorship at the upcoming Itzulia (Tour of the Basque Country), April 6-11.