Sean Yates saddles up with Alberto Contador, Ivan Basso at Team Eolo Kometa

Spanish team will step up to ProTour level in 2021 with invites to WorldTour races in the cards.

Veteran sports director Sean Yates will be joining forces with cycling legends Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso at the head of the newly-promoted Eolo-Kometa cycling team in 2021.

The 60-year-old former pro, who has worked with Team Sky, CSC, Astana, Discovery Channel, and Tinkoff Saxo, will act as head of performance, stepping away from his current role at Nippo Delko One Provence. The Spanish Eolo-Kometa outfit is run and managed by Alberto Contador and his brother Fran, with Ivan Basso sitting in the sports director’s chair.

“I’m very excited about this new adventure,” Yates said. “ It was too good an opportunity to refuse. I have known Ivan [Basso] since 2004 when he was a rider at CSC and I was a sports director there. Since then I have worked with him at Discovery Channel and Tinkoff-Saxo and Tinkoff and we have always had a good relationship.

“A few times since the demise of Tinkoff we have talked about possibly working together again, but things haven’t quite come to fruition for various reasons,” he said. “Now things are really happening and I’m pleased to be working with Ivan, Alberto [Contador] and Jesús [Hernández] as I have worked with them all before.”

The team, currently named Kometa-Xstra, is part of Contador’s development program, the Contador Foundation. Earlier this year, the Continental squad took a major step in its three-year history with the inking of a deal that would bring on Italian internet company Eolo as sponsor in 2021, giving them the financing to step up to second-tier ProTeam status in the new season.

Yates, who has spent recent years living off-grid in rural Spain, described his role as part of a three-year project to “develop in a controlled but progressive way, growing day by day to be a bigger and better team.” Though the race program for 2021 is still to be defined, the Brit suggested WorldTour invites would be on the cards.

“To shape the team, there are some intense days of work ahead,” said Yates. “The team is moving up a level and the range of races in which the riders will compete is much greater. We will be racing in the big races against the best riders. Obviously, at this point in time, we can’t be thinking about winning the general classification of a race like the Giro, Vuelta or Tour de France, but we can talk about presenting a good team image, showing great commitment, and being as good as we can be.”