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Team Andalucia at the startline
Cutbacks in Spain could result in relegation to Continental status
The long-term future of the Andalucía team is looking increasingly uncertain due to cutbacks forced by the extent of the economic difficulties affecting Spain. Established in 2005, the team run by ex-pro Antonio Cabello has received a wild card entry into the Vuelta a España every year since 2007, but could lose that brand-enhancing opportunity if budget cuts force its relegation from the Professional Continental ranks down to Continental level.
Cabello announced in early November that the financial support provided by the team’s main backer, Andalucía’s regional government, will be cut in 2013, but he expressed his optimism that the 15-strong squad continue at the same level. Having claimed 10 victories in 2012, including a stage at the Ruta del Sol (Tour of Andalucía), Cabello commented: “We have shown ourselves and the results we’ve gained have been positive in all respects with regard to the image we have presented and the triumphs achieved.”
However, uncertainty about the team’s prospects has grown since that time. Cabello has intimated that he has a new sub-sponsor ready to step in with new backing, but he has given no details about identity of this prospective backer. He has, though, said that the team would continue even if it had to drop to continental level, pointing out that the Vuelta would be the only race on its traditional programme that it would not be able take part in.
Although less prominent than usual at this year’s Vuelta, Cabello’s team have continued to be one of the main generators of young Spanish talent. Drawing in riders from southern Spain in much the same way that Euskaltel and Orbea do in the Basque Country, Andalucía have produced a string of solid performers at the top level, including Antonio Piedra, winner of the Covadonga stage of this year’s Vuelta, Cofidis’s Luis Ángel Maté, Movistar’s Javier Moreno and new Euskaltel signing Juan José Lobato. The set-up also comprises an amateur team that is among the best in Spain.