Luis García Abad, the manager for Formula One star Fernando Alonso, has reportedly told the website Biciciclismo that he has formally requested a WorldTour licence for the F1 star’s new team. However, according to the interview, he has insisted that they have not signed, or even approached, any riders because it would be illegal until the regulations allow him to do so, on October 1st.
“I can’t contract anybody until October 1st because it would be illegal to do so,” García Abad said in an interview with Biciciclismo. “We have not spoken officially with any rider.”
García Abad told the Spanish website that he had requested a WorldTour licence and now has a meeting with the UCI later this month.
Asking for a WorldTour licence does not in itself make the creation of a team an absolute certainty, but it is proof that the Alonso project has more chances of getting off the ground in the short to mid-term than had been rumoured.
Asked about signing riders, García Abad told Biciciclismo, “if you touch the ball with your hand when you’re in front of the goalmouth, that’s a penalty. I can’t contract anybody because I’m not formally registered as a team, I would be carrying out an illegal act.” That will only change, then, on October 1st.
Whilst appearing to rule out the possibility of buying a team lock stock and barrel, García Abad said the regulations would decide whether it came to registering the new squad as WorldTour or as ProContinental.
“It’s not a problem of whether we consider one thing or another, it’s the way the rules are. If you have the riders and you have enough points to be in the first division [WorldTour] you will be, if not then you’re in ProContinental.”
The news that Fernando Alonso would be interested in forming a cycling team - or, as seemed more likely at that point, buying out the Euskaltel-Euskadi squad - first broke in the Vuelta last year. Since then, there has been very little concrete information, with multiple rumours of signings both team management figures and riders invariably turned out to be wrong, fuelling pessimism about the possibility of the team becoming a reality. However, the latest interview suggests the new team does appear to be moving forward, albeit at a pace set strictly by UCI regulations.