F1 star Fernando Alonso is still moving forward with plans to create a professional cycling team, according to his manager Luis García-Abad. In an article published by AS today, he confirmed that the application process with the UCI is on schedule.
"There are still people working on the team," Garcia-Abad said, confirming the team still plans to join the pro peloton in 2015.
The group is currently juggling deadlines: they are prevented from signing any contracts before August 1, but need to meet all of the UCI's requirements for the new formation by the application deadline of October 1. That includes having funding and a minimum number of rider contracts signed, with sufficient firepower to warrant inclusion in the WorldTour.
"If we get into the sport, we want to do well," García-Abad said. "The rules are what they are, and we have to adapt, we do not question whether they are good or bad."
There has been speculation that the Alonso group might obtain its WorldTour license from a current team that is facing an uncertain future. Belkin, which loses its title sponsor at the end of this season, is the most obvious target, but they are making progress in their sponsorship hunt. García-Abad indicated that there just was not enough time in the UCI's window to allow for his project to absorb another team.
"If we were to absorb another group, we would not have the time to wait," he said.
The professional peloton is facing a potential employment crisis: Belkin's future is uncertain, there are rumors Cannondale is merging with another team, and other teams, like Omega Pharma-Quickstep who have budgets are already scaling back their rosters in light of the UCI's plan to decrease the maximum number of riders in the WorldTour teams to 22, down from 30.
The Alonso project is seen as potential saviours for the sport, but Garcia-Abad rejected that label. "We did not come to save anything. We want to make a team in which we would like to implement ideas from our experience in Formula 1 . We would like that to work, and not only in technology. For example, we want to establish methods for the team to be profitable. We do not understand why a cycling team can not have more income what is provided by a sponsor."