Manolo Sáiz sets up new under-23 cycling team

Controversial coach building long-term project, eyes return to the professional peloton

Since the Liberty Seguros team fallout, the long-rumoured return to cycling of former ONCE directeur sportif Manolo Sáiz was bound to happen and it will occur as early as next season. According to a statement released this afternoon, the Spanish coach will start an amateur team in 2016 with the support of electricity supply company Aldro.

"The aim is to become the best elite and under-23 squad in Spain," Sáiz asserted in conversation with Cyclingnews. "However, this is a long-term project with a strong commitment by Aldro, which will enable us to work in very good conditions."

Despite admitting his ultimate goal is to reappear "soon" in the professional peloton, this brand new structure looks like the ideal springboard for that purpose but Sáiz declined to comment further on this matter.

Former ONCE riders Herminio Díaz Zabala and David Etxebarría will act as director sportifs for the Aldro Team. Details such as technical sponsors and roster "are still being worked out" by Sáiz, who claims to be in touch with "some of the most promising junior and under-23 Spanish riders." The team are hoping to race around Europe as well as their national Spain.

Aldro Energía is an electricity supply company from the Spanish region of Cantabria. Regardless of being established only in 2014, it enjoys huge financial power because it's part of a big holding that operates under the name of Tower Valley. It owns a portfolio of almost 30 companies with a wide field of activity that ranges from telecommunications to temporary employment.

Sáiz is well known in the cycling world for running the successful ONCE team and their successor Liberty Seguros from 1990 to 2006, when the structure collapsed due to the Operación Puerto - a police investigation on doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. After seven years of court proceedings, Sáiz was found not guilty of the alleged charges of crime against public health.

In 2015, he made a silent comeback to the Spanish cycling scene by collaborating with the already established amateur team Café Baqué – Conservas Campos as a technical advisor. He left this squad in May to work on this new personal project, which will materialise next year.

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