In a press conference today in San Sebastián, the organisation committees of the Vuelta al País Vasco and the Euskal Bizikleta announced that they would merge into a new organisation called "Organizaciones Ciclistas Euskadi". The move will mean the continuation of the ProTour races Vuelta al País Vasco (April 6 to 11) and the Clásica San Sebastián (August 1), but will see the Euskal Bizikleta (June 3-7) disappear from the Spanish calendar, according to Diario Vasco.
The Euskal Bizikleta, which was once more important than the Vuelta al País Vasco, suffered in the last few years from financial loss, reducing the race to only three days instead of one week. Earlier this year, the Basque television channel ETB informed the organisations that they would not be able to cover both events and made the proposition to merge both races.
"We accepted the plan of ETB, and we did totally agree", confirmed Jaime Ugarte, the president of the new organisation. "The new team will organise the Vuelta al País Vasco as well as the Clásica San Sebastián." The official press partner will be the Diario Vasco, and the Basque government will come back as sponsor, like they were until 2006.
Julián Eraso, the new vice-president of the Organizaciones Ciclistas Euskadi said that "the direction of Sports of the Basque government and ETB believed in this project and the new organisation. They imposed some conditions, and we accepted. It is a fantastic project and it will allow that the fans will go on enjoying races of the highest level."
The new Vuelta al País Vasco will merge with the legendary final stage of the Euskal Bizikleta, the ascent to the sanctuary of Arrate, to form a six-day stage race which will begin in Ataun and finish with a time trial in Zalla. (MP)