Formula 1 star Fernando Alonso was on hand at the start of the elite men's world championship race
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WorldTour status "of secondary importance" to F1 driver
Fernando Alonso has met with UCI president Brian Cookson and discussed his plans to start a team in 2015. The encounter came as Cookson presented the WorldTour winners’ trophies to Joaquim Rodríguez and Team Movistar at a ceremony in Madrid on Thursday.
Also at the meeting were the director general of the Higher Council for Sports (CSD), Ana Muñoz, Spanish Federation president José Luis López Cerrón and Alonso’s manager Luis García Abad. After speaking with Cookson, Alonso acknowledged that WorldTour status would not be a necessity for his team in 2015.
"It was a very positive meeting,” Alonso told Spanish newspaper AS. “It seems of secondary importance for this project to be in the WorldTour in 2015. With the great team that we’re going to have, we are going to be assured of being in the best races.”
Alonso had hoped to have a team for 2014 when he planned on buying the WorldTour licence from Euskaltel-Euskadi, but negotiations collapsed in late September. Kiko García, who is set to head up the new Alonso team, is equally ambitious. However, if a proposed new reduction of the WorldTour to 16 teams comes into effect in 2015, it might prevent them from securing a WorldTour licence in their first year.
With this in mind, Alonso is confident that he can secure wildcard entry into the Vuelta a España and AS reports that he has has also travelled to talk with Tour organisers ASO. He and García hope to build a team strong enough to gain entry into some of the biggest races.
“Our objective is to form a team that can take the wildcards,” García said to AS. "We have many contacts and there are cyclists who will be free at the end of 2014. The idea isn’t to start breaking contracts.”
With two WorldTour teams folding at the end of this season, the UCI have welcomed Alonso’s plans. “Our objective is to help people like Alonso and projects as exciting as his to become part of the sport,” Cookson said in an interview with AS.
“We are working to return the confidence in cycling. Like many countries, Spain has lived through a difficult economic time. But, like in all sports, the most important thing is to bet and invest in the foundation and I will help in anyway possible to make that bet.”
Away from the topic of Alonso’s team, the UCI president also spoke about the independent investigation into the UCI. “We are about to announce the names of the people who are going to work on it. I hope to do that before Christmas.”