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The manager of Formula One driver Fernando Alonso insists that plans to create a new team for the 2015 season remain on track.
Despite suggestions that the planned Spanish top-division team is stuck in the mud, Luis García-Abad, the right-hand man for Alonso, told the Spanish daily AS that the project is moving forward.
“There are people working on the creation of a cycling team,” García-Abad told AS. “They are following the rules according to the UCI … If we are going to enter a sport, we’re going to do it the right way.”
Alonso made headlines across Spain last year when he announced his intention to start a topflight team. Initial efforts to take over the doomed Euskaltel-Euskadi project failed last fall, and Alonso said he intended to create his own team from scratch.
If the Alonso group is moving forward, they do not seem to be active in the rider market, something that has already set tongues wagging earlier this year that the team might not happen.
Friday opened cycling’s official “trading season” for teams to sign new riders, though most deals have already been worked out weeks or months ago. Already, riders such as Lars Boom and Nacer Bouhanni have confirmed new squads for next year.
Several agents and riders contacted by VeloNews during the recent Tour de France said the Alonso group was not actively approaching riders with offers. When one agent was contacted Friday, they replied, “They’re not talking to my riders.”
Former world champion Paolo Bettini has been linked to the team as a possible general manager, but there seems to be little movement behind the scenes. Alonso reportedly has a sponsorship deal with Dubai, allegedly up to $20 million per year, but as one agent said, “If they had that kind of money, believe me, everyone would be talking about it.”
García-Abad would not elaborate when pressed by AS about specifics, suggesting that the team has its hands tied until it has an official UCI license, revealed in October, adding, “The rules are what they are, and we have to adapt to them. We don’t question if they are good or bad.”
One possibility making the rounds was that the Alonso group could take over one several teams struggling for sponsorship backing, but two teams — Belkin and Giant-Shimano — both say they’re on track to secure backing to keep their respective teams afloat. Another team with an uncertain future is Cannondale, which owns its own racing license, but could be joining Garmin-Sharp as a title sponsor and bike supplier next season.
“If we would take over another team, then we wouldn’t have to wait for all the deadlines,” García-Abad said about the takeover rumors.
“We are not coming [to cycling] to save anything. We want to create a team to bring our ideas from Formula One, and we hope that it will work,” he continued. “Not just technology, but also, we want to create a team that is profitable. We don’t understand how a cycling team can only have income from the money it receives from its sponsor.”
Everyone is cycling is waiting to see if the Alonso project is real or just wishful thinking.