Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso refused to be drawn on the prospect of signing Alberto Contador to the former Euskaltel-Euskadi squad when he discussed his new venture in Monza ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
When it was revealed on Monday that Alonso had stepped in to save Euskaltel-Euskadi from extinction at the end of the season, speculation immediately mounted that Contador might be a target for the team, even though he is contracted to Saxo-Tinkoff until the end of 2015.
“I have many friends in the cycling world and I have a good relationship with a lot of riders, like Alberto and others, too,” Alonso said when asked about Contador, according to Marca.
L’Équipe reports that Contador’s entourage has sought details on the revamped team from Alonso’s agent Luis Garcia Abad, while Gazzetta dello Sportnotes that Saxo-Tinkoff manager Bjarne Riis travelled to Pinto to meet with Contador on Thursday.
Alonso admitted that it will be difficult to make many signings at this late point in the year and suggested the team would be unlikely to make significant reinforcements ahead of next season.
“Hopefully we can create a solid project, although not so much in 2014 because I don’t there are many riders who can be signed now. But in 2015, we would like to do something big,” Alonso said, according to Marca.
Former ONCE rider Kiko García is set to be manager of the new team, current Euskaltel manager Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano will remain with the set-up as head directeur sportif, while the squad will also feature Alonso’s fellow Asturias native Samuel Sanchez. Alonso dismissed rumours that he was going to take a year away from motor sport in order to focus on building his cycling team but acknowledged that there was still work to be done during the off-season, not least confirming the team’s title sponsor.
“The team still has no name and we’re waiting for sponsors, if you want to write that,” Alonso joked. “We need to find sponsors and do many things over the coming months because our first race is in Australia in mid-January and it’s something we can’t delay any longer.
“This project aims to unite two things – to bring the best of cycling to Formula One, such as sacrifice, determination and discipline and at the same time bring the best of F1 to cycling. Hopefully, we can help cycling in terms of image, organization, marketing, professionalism etc.”