Euskaltel's grip on some of the best young talent in the sport appears to be under threat from one of the peloton's bigger teams. Having lost Beñat Intxausti to Movistar at the end of last season, the Spanish press is reporting that Tour of Romandy prologue winner Jonathan Castroviejo and Giro d'Italia stage winner Mikel Nieve may be heading in the same direction.
According to El Correo, Castroviejo has already been offered a three-year deal with Movistar when his current contract with Euskaltel runs out at the end of this season. Although the rider has denied on his Twitter page that any deal has been done, and his agent has described the reports of a move as "totally inexact", his agent did admit that "Movistar and two other ProTour teams are interested" in signing the 24-year-old Basque.
Castroviejo first emerged in the same Seguros Bilbao team as Intxausti. The pair also share the same agent, Antonio Vaquerizas. El Correo describes Vaquerizas as having "a long-term enmity" with Miguel Madariaga, the president of the Fundación Euskadi body that controls the Euskaltel team.
The newspaper also reports that Movistar are extremely interested in signing Nieve despite the Euskaltel climber having another year to run on his contract. Already a winner at the Cotobello summit in last year's Vuelta, Nieve's profile rose even higher when he won the "queen" stage in May's Giro d'Italia to Val di Fassa. Madariaga is said to have flown to Italy on the very next day to renegotiate Nieve's contract.
In Movistar's favour is the fact that Nieve hails from the same Navarra region as Spain's longest-standing and best-backed team. However, Movistar would almost certainly have to pay a sizeable buy-out fee to secure Nieve's signature a year before his contract concludes.