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Samuel Sanchez linked to World Tour team
After the demise of Euskaltel-Euskadi, nine of its riders are left without a team for 2014. Samuel Sánchez is one of the nine riders but according to sources cited by Spanish newspaper El País, the former Olympic champion has already signed a contract with a WorldTour team which will be announced in January.
Sánchez is not ready to retire yet. He had a contract with Euskaltel for 2014 and 2015 and was set to ride for the team when Fernando Alonso took over. When that deal didn't go ahead, the Spanish veteran was left looking for a place again. He has been linked to several teams, including Pro Continental outfit Unitedhealthcare but the American squad confirmed to Cyclingnews that its roster is complete for 2014. Belgian pro continental team Wanty-Groupe Gobert are reported to be interested in signing the Beijing Olympic champion but are lacking funds.
Sanchez' Euskaltel teammate Igor Anton was left waiting for a contract until this week when Movistar signed the Spanish rider. "It was nonsense that a rider like Anton was left without a team," Movistar's team manager Eusebio Unzué told El Mundo. "He still has a lot to offer cycling. The deal was done very quickly."
Movistar is a lifeline for four of the former Euskaltel riders. Next to Anton, the brothers Gorka and Ion Izagirre and sprinter Juanjo Lobato found a place in Spain's only World Tour team. Three other riders have found places on WorldTour teams: Mikel Landa at Astana, Mikel Nieve at Team Sky and Romain Sicard with Europcar, while Pello Bilbao signed with pro continental team Caja Rural.
Ioannis Tamouridis, Gari Bravo, Ricardo Mestre, Robert Vrecer, Pablo Urtasun, Juanjo Oroz and Jure Kocjan found a new team in the continental ranks while Mikel Astarloza, Adrian Saez and André Schulze have opted for retirement. Schulze becomes Team Netapp-Endura's sports director next season. Alexander Serebryakov was fired after a positive doping test and Moroccan Tarik Chaoufi left the team because he couldn't adapt to riding for a team abroad.
Of the 29 riders presented earlier this year for what turned out to be Euskaltel's last season on the road, nine are still left without a team for 2014. With most teams already starting their preparation for next season, the outlook seems bleak for Egoi Martínez, Jon Aberasturi, Jorge Azanza, Ricardo García, Miguel Mínguez, Rubén Pérez, Gorka Verdugo and Steffen Radochla,