Former ONCE and Liberty Seguros manager Manolo Saiz has said that he wishes to return to the sport and has revealed plans to build a new team for 2012. The Spaniard has not managed a professional team since he was arrested in May 2006 as part of raids by Spanish police that kick-started the Operacion Puerto investigation.
“In 2011 I think we’ll start making progress and then in 2012 start working with a new structure, built from scratch,” Saiz told El Diario Montanes. "If I learnt anything from managing ONCE, it’s that planning is everything and I hope that in this way we can take important steps next year, and then in 2012 start the team.”
The controversial Saiz says that he is looking to one of cycling’s untapped markets to help to build his team. “Professional cycling has not incorporated any team from Asia, except for Astana, but let’s not forget that Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrei Kashechkin both developed in Europe,” he said. “Asia is a continent with enormous human and economic potential.”
Saiz also told El Diario Montanes that he hopes that his role in any new team will involve “the preparation of riders” and he claimed that no team has since surpassed the level of preparation and organisation that was the feature of his ONCE set-up.
When asked about his former charge Alberto Contador, Saiz bemoaned the brevity of his season. “It’s not good to finish the season with just 48 days of competition,” he said. “I’ll say one thing and I hope it doesn’t bother anyone, but Contador has learned the bad things from Armstrong as opposed to the good. Armstrong did some very good things, but Alberto has failed to grasp them and that’s not good for him or for cycling.”
Saiz’ arrest in 2006 came about after he was videotaped meeting in a Madrid café with Eufemiano Fuentes, doctor at the centre of Operacion Puerto, while in possession of a suitcase containing €60,000. He has always denied any wrongdoing.