The returning general manager of Euskaltel-Euskadi, Manuel Madariaga, has confident the team will continue beyond 2012 even though it is currently facing reduced funds going into the new season. Following the resignation of Igor González de Galdeano, the president of the Fundación Euskadi - which manages the World Tour squad and its feeder teams - Madariaga took over the reigns again but only for one year. After which, he announced, the team would have to set up a new structure as the current public funds supporting the squad have been substantially cut.
"Right now, the team is in the hands of the Fundación. Euskaltel [the Basque telephone company] covers 38 percent of the budget and the rest comes mainly from [bike manufacturer] Orbea and the public institutions. Euskaltel and Orbea have not drawn back a single Euro, but the institutions, the Basque government and the delegations of Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa and Araba have decreased their contributions," Madariaga explained to Deia, saying that the team was going into the 2012 season having lost about one million Euro in their budget.
This situation was no surprise for the orange outfit, which includes stars such as Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez, but Madariaga said that the build-up of a new structure was inevitable and that he feared that no other private company would be found to keep the squad at the top level of cycling.
"This team cannot disappear, but whoever will take over will have to create a new structure different to that of the Fundación Euskadi. That's the future of this team and Euskaltel is ready to take over the reigns. Together with them, we have been looking these past three years for a private backer to support us. But there was nothing, or at least nothing that wasn't contradictory to what we are showing on our jerseys. To wear the name of Euskadi also holds a lot of companies back," he explained further.
The fact that the Basque team is so deeply committed to its regional and cultural background, signing exclusively Basque riders and having a significant development programme, does not help the team in a time when the UCI's main focus is to internationalise the sport. Madariaga admitted he had difficulty securing a World Tour license for next season, and that the new UCI rider points system penalised the team more than anything else.
"I think we are close to the World Tour license. Of the four teams [Euskaltel, FDJ, AG2R and Europcar] up for the last remaining three licenses, we have the most historic weight. That's our main asset. But the UCI can do us harm on the financial level. Our budget is only small, and that's playing against us.
"Moreover, we cannot sign riders having points from any part of the world. Cycling goes into the direction of Formula One and we are a feeder team that has the most limited budget of the elite of this sport."