Euskaltel team manager Miguel Madariaga has admitted that the squad needs a substantial injection of funds in order to keep competing at the top level of the sport. One of the founders of the team back in 1993, Madariaga says that the search for sponsors has been widened beyond their Basque Country base and confirmed that any new sponsorship deal could lead to non-Basque riders joining the team.
“At the moment the worst thing about the team is that we have working with the same budget for the past five years. In fact, I’ve had to make some cuts because of the loss of some financial support, principally from the Basque government. Now we are looking for another sponsor to make up the money we’ve lost. The days are passing and I don’t think we will have any problems in 2012, but we have to find something
for the future,” Madariaga told Marca.
Madariaga described Euskaltel’s current budget as “the smallest of all the teams in the WorldTour”, revealing that it amounts to seven million euros. “It’s less than some continental teams,” he added. “We’ve not been able to raise it for five years and that’s not to be recommended."
He said that the current UCI ranking points system works against the team’s philosophy of developing young Basque riders who work with two or three leaders, such as Samuel Sánchez, Igor Antón and Mikel Nieve. “It doesn’t only work against us from the economic point of view. Due to our philosophy we can’t pick up riders from outside the Basque Country, which means we can’t sign the exotic riders who have got
lots of ranking points. We need to have nine million euros if we hope to have a competitive team,” he said.
Madariaga revealed that team is considering a range of options, including a step down from WorldTour status. “We’ve not decided what to do. The first thing is to locate a sponsor. If a new backer allows us to continue with the same philosophy it would be great, if not we will have to look at things again. I’m not contemplating the team disappearing.
“We could change our ideology and sign foreign riders, but it all depends on the sponsors we might find. It seems that companies outside the Basque Country love us more than those within the region,” he admitted.