News shorts: Samuel Sanchez still looking for 2015 contract

Alonso announcement, Christina Watches folds

Lampre-Merida interested in Sanchez?

Samuel Sanchez left it late to find a team for this season, only signing with BMC in early February, and the former Olympic champion faces a similarly anxious off-season this time around.

Despite a solid campaign with BMC, where he was 6th at the Vuelta a España, 5th in Lombardia and provided the assist for Philippe Gilbert’s Amstel Gold Race victory, Sanchez has yet to pen a deal for 2015. His agent Michel Gros has revealed that there has been interest from Lampre-Merida but still no firm offer for the 36-year-old’s services.

“Even though there is contact with Lampre, I’m very surprised that there’s been no offer,” Gros told L’Équipe, who estimated that around 30 riders will be left without work when the dust settles on the transfer market.

“It’s worrying. For three years, times have become hard. Teams like Giant and BMC have carried out plans to trim down their teams, no doubt to come into line with the global cycling reforms announced for 2017. The economic crisis has also had its effect and the budgets aren’t extendable.”

Alonso announcement expected soon

An announcement regarding the Fernando Alonso Cycling Team (FACT) is to be expected in the coming days, according to Spanish newspaper AS.

"We will announce it in a week or ten days,” Alonso said at a press conference in Sochi, where he is competing in the Russian Grand Prix. "Two weeks ago we announced that we had an alliance with a background of cycling investment of Qatar (NOVO). They have control of the following projects, of which I am very excited. For them, it was not the right time to create a team.”

Alonso missed the October 1st deadline for WorldTour applications, although there was still a small glimmer of hope that they may be up and running for 2015. However, his statement implies that we may be waiting another year before we see the team realised. The Spanish driver is also going through a hectic time in his own career as he is expected to leave his current team Ferrari at the end of the season.

Christina Watches folds

Danish Continental team Christina Watches will shut up shop at the end of the season, after their title sponsor decided to leave the sport in favour of sponsoring a handball team. Christina Watches owners Christina and Claus Hembo have bought the FCM Handball team and will no longer fund cycling, according to Danish website BT.dk.

The team was the brainchild of former cyclist Michael Rasmussen. A controversial figure in the peloton, Rasmussen rode for the team from 2011 (when it was awarded a Continental licence) and 2013 and remained co-owner of the team after his retirement.

More surgery for Merckx

After undergoing cardiac surgery in August, Eddy Merckx is set to undergo a further procedure in Brussels next week, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. The Belgian had previously been fitted with a pacemaker in March of last year, to remedy his cardiac arrhythmia.

According to Gazzetta’s report, “the situation is under control” and Merckx is expected to return immediately to his work as an ambassador for the Tours of Qatar and Oman.

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