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Basque races under threat of extinction
The Tour of the Basque Country (Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco) and the Clasica San Sebastian are in danger of disappearing along with past races in this mountainous region of Spain due to a budget shortfall of 150,000 euros, it was reported this week.
If the Organizaciones Ciclistas Euskadi cannot come up with the funds by March 5, the races could join the Euskal Bizikleta, which disappeared in 2009, and the Subida a Urkiola which ended in 2010 as formerly great but now extinct Basque races.
The reason for the lack of funds is the economic crisis which has reached Spain. "There was an agreement which the Basque regional government - until this year the main race sponsor - cannot fulfil because of the economic situation. We're waiting for a solution, but right now, we've got nothing," said the organisation's president Jaime Ugarte, according to Reuters.
Both races are currently listed on the UCI's WorldTour calendar, a compilation of all of the sport's most important events. The País Vasco has existed since 1924, while San Sebastian emerged in 1981.
Despite the high profile of the events - Andreas Klöden won the Basque Tour last year and Philippe Gilbert won in San Sebastian - the organisers are pessimistic of being able to raise the kind of money needed before the self-imposed deadline of March 5.
"Nobody earns a single peseta here, not even the men who put up the barriers at the starts and finishes," Ugarte said of his all-volunteer organisation.
"If a moment comes where you have to say 'we've enjoyed the experience, we've lived through it, and it's over', then that moment comes.
"But right now, in any case, I don't enjoy it, I spend too much time wracking my brains working out how the races can possibly continue."
Should the two races vanish, Spain will be left with just two events in the WorldTour - the Volta a Catalunya and the Vuelta a España.