When the Spanair flight from Madrid to the Canary Islands crashed on Wednesday, killing 153 people, it took with it one of the patrons of Spanish cycling, José Joaquín Pérez de Obanos. A friend of Caisse d'Epargne manager José Miguel Echávarri, Pérez was a passionate supporter of cycling who had worked in the organisation of the Vuelta a España in addition to his regular job as the president of the National Federation of Agriculture.
Pérez was to have flown on Thursday, but changed his plans at the last minute, and boarded the doomed flight on Wednesday. It lifted off from the Madrid airport, but then suffered a mechanical incident and crashed to the ground. Only 19 people survived.
According to Marca.com, Pérez had been friends with Echávarri since they served in the military, and had been a supporter of Spanish teams Reynolds, Banesto, Illes Balears and Caisse d'Epargne. He had visited the team at the Tour de France this summer during the rest day in Pau and the final day in Paris.
Also a friend of the great Miguel Indurain, Pérez helped secure the city of Pamplona, near Indurain's home town, as a Tour de France stage finish in 1996, (near the home of Indurain).
Echávarri remembered his friend, saying, "he gained the respect and the love of those who were fortunate enough to get to know him."
The Cyclingnews extends its condolences to all the friends and family of José Joaquín Pérez de Obanos.