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Luís León Sánchez, one of the hottest riders in the Spanish peloton, says he’ll wait to see if Caisse d’Epargne can find a new sponsor before abandoning ship.
Sánchez, a winner at the Clásica San Sebastián last weekend, said he’s received offers from Rabobank and other teams, but hopes he can stay with Caisse d’Epargne.
“(Team manager Eusebio) Unzue has asked us to wait a little bit more. I have spoke with Rabobank and some other teams, but I want to wait to see what happens. I still have a contract with this team until Dec. 31, 2010,” Sánchez said. “Everyone is hoping that the talk of a new sponsor comes to fruition. This team has a rich tradition and it would be a shame to see it come to an end.”
The Spanish outfit, which dates back to the late 1980s with the Reynolds then Banesto titles, could fold at the end of this season.
The French bank says it’s ending its three-year sponsorship deal, but team management has yet to be able to find a new sponsor to keep the team afloat.
Rumors were flying at the Tour that a new Spanish sponsor was ready to step up, but that seems to have lost steam, especially with the announcement that Alberto Contador has penned a two-year deal with Saxo Bank.
Another story making the rounds was of an Italian sponsor ready to come on board with money to keep the currently-banned Alejandro Valverde under contract when he returns to racing in 2012.
Sánchez, 26, said he hopes to stay with Caisse d’Epargne, which he joined in 2007. If not, there seem to be plenty of teams ready to pick him up, including Rabobank and Quick Step.
Sánchez also said he believes he can still become a contender for the Tour de France. This year, he fell short of a winning a stage (he had won stages in the two previous editions of the Tour), but took optimism out of his 11th place overall, his best showing yet in the Tour.
“I continued to make progress this year in the Tour. The plan was for me to take aim at the overall at the Vuelta, but with what happened with Alejandro (Valverde), I had to go to the Tour with a different agenda,” he said. “I lacked a little bit of freshness. When there was a group of 10 or 15, I was able to stay with the best. When the attacks came late in the stage, that’s when I was missing a little to stay with the leaders. I think I did a good Tour and I think I can improve. Perhaps next year I can come to the Tour 100 percent and see how I can do in the GC.”
Whether or not that will be riding for Unzue remains to be seen.