Time could be running out for the Team Alonso project with one leading cycling agent telling Cyclingnews that from his experience they have until the end of this month to confirm their plans and begin to start signing riders.
The project, created by Formula 1 driver and cycling fan Fernando Alonso has been linked to a number of riders for the 2015 season, including Peter Sagan, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Tony Martin and current world time road champion Rui Costa. Former rider Paolo Bettini was drafted in to manage the creation of the team but few details have emerged with rumours that the project has stalled in recent weeks.
Paul De Geyter, who has over fifteen years of experience as a rider agent, has worked with a number of newly formed teams in his time but has also seen a number of potential squads fail to materialise during the years too.
“We’re already in mid-May and it doesn’t look good unless things become concrete very quickly,” De Geyter told Cyclingnews.
“There have been talks, but by now you have to consider the riders, the staff, the cars, sponsors big and small, materials and if there’s nothing concrete by now then it’s not a good sign. It’s a question of days now and if you don’t here anything positive soon then it’s a no-go. However I’m not on the board of directors for the Alonso team, so that’s just my opinion based of my experience in these matters.”
The idea for a team backed by Alonso first circulated in the fall of last year with talks held between the F1 driver’s representatives and the now defunct Euskatel team. Negotiations collapsed with Alonso vowing to set up his own WorldTour team for 2015.
Everything is ready
Bettini began to talk to riders, with speculation that Peter Sagan was the team's number one objective. The week the Italian refused to speak in detail about the team, while working on the Giro d'Italia for a race sponsor but admitted to Gazzetta dello Sport that he has fulfilled his role as technical team manager, identifying the riders and staff, who would ensure a successful debut in 2015.
"I'm ready. I've done my job, with Fernando we've prepared everything. I'm just waiting for the OK to start," was all he would say.
However several months have passed since Alonso’s initial flirtation with the sport and in De Geyter’s view time is running out.
“In my opinion this is about a team with someone who really wants to do it for the pleasure. It’s not a big company that has to do it all and they’ve got a difficult time scale. I sense they don't have the same pressure, so if they can’t do it quickly and in a good way then I wouldn’t be surprised if Alonso decides to wait for another year," he said.
As to which riders are on Bettini’s long-list of potential signings remains unknown. However the team need to sign at least five riders with enough UCI points in order to gain a WorldTour licence for 2015 and then complete the complex application process in the second half of the year.
“If Sagan is still free, sure he'd be a target, but I’d be very surprised if he is. There are not that many top riders who are free for next year," De Geyter warned.
"If you go through the list of top riders in the WorldTour like Cancellara, Boonen and most of the top sprinters, they’ve all got contracts for next season. The top five at the Tour like Froome, Contador, van Garderen, Quintana, they’ve all got contracts. Nibali too. Most of them are blocked. One who is important and a top transfer for next season is Tony Martin. You could say that he’s one of the top transfers for next season.”