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Spain drops worlds-winning coach in money dispute

Riders come to Minguez's defense after successful coach's contract is not renewed.

Just weeks after delivering the men’s elite world title, Spain’s national coach Javier Minguez was told he won’t be back in 2019.

According to reports on the Spanish wire services, the Spanish cycling federation notified Minguez on Wednesday it would not be renewing his contract for the coming season. That decision comes despite the veteran Spaniard coach bringing home five medals in six worlds he worked at the helm, including Alejandro Valverde’s world title win in September.

Minguez, who was a top Spanish sport director in the 1980s and 1990s, said he saved the Spanish federation a lot of money when he did not earn a salary or even get reimbursed for travel costs during two years.

Spanish cycling federation officials did not want to increase the salary — already much lower compared to such federations in France or Italy where the national coach can earn well into six-figures — and notified him this week he would not be offered a contract extension.

“Surprised, no, but personally disappointed, yes,” Minguez told Europa Press. “But if you worked without [pay] with a federation that said it had no money when everyone else was taking a salary it’s not what you hope for.”

Minguez worked two years in 2013 and 2014 without receiving a salary as the Spanish cycling federation was facing a budget shortfall of millions of euros. Minguez later earned $35,000 on the job and asked for a raise coming into 2019.

“I went to Florence [in 2013] in a rented car, sleeping in a hotel of $90 and I didn’t get paid back the expenses,” Minguez said. “If you loan money to a friend and a friend doesn’t pay you back, you lose the money and the friend.”

Minguez, who was also often a vocal critic of the Spanish cycling federation, said he did not ask for a raise but said at the current salary he would not continue. Officials from the Spanish federation, which reportedly still has a debt of 1.5 million euros, notified Minguez he wouldn’t be welcomed back.

Among those in line to take over include under-23 coach Pascual Momparler and former world champion Oscar Freire.

Several riders came to Minguez’s defense, including ex-pro Joaquin Rodríguez, who was second in Florence the year Minguez first took over.

“Would Barcelona [soccer team] fire its [manager] if it won the Champion’s League? Wouldn’t they raise his salary and extend his contract?” Rodríguez wrote on Twitter. “This year [Minguez] won and they do not renew him.”

Minguez took it all with a grain of salt.

“Cycling is my life,” he said. “But the messages I’ve received from the riders, above all from Valverde, are what give me gratitude. They’ve all called me or written me, and said I will always be their boss, and that I’ve gone out the ‘puerta grande’. I’ll always remember the riders and the helpers, that’s what I will keep.”