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Telephone company to take over direct running of Basque squad
Euskaltel-Euskadi - albeit with a single sponsor, Euskaltel, and without the Euskadi foundation which has been part of its unique structure since 1994 - will continue as a team into 2013 , Basque newspaper El Diario Vasco has reported.
The news follows months of uncertainty about the future of the team beyond the end of the season, which is expected to split into two very different halves for 2013.
One part will be the WorldTour team, with - according to El Diario Vasco - an increased contribution from Euskaltel. Euskaltel currently provide three million euros a year, roughly 50 percent of the team’s total cost. Basque public institutions, such as the Basque government, are expected to continue their sponsorship of the Euskaltel squad, albeit at a lower level. The team’s overall budget, other sources told Cyclingnews, is expected to triple to around nine million per annum.
The other half of what was Euskaltel-Euskadi, the Euskadi Foundation, will no longer be responsible for the team’s logistical side.
Speaking in an interview this April, however, Euskaltel-Euskadi’s current manager, Miguel Madariaga, who has overseen the professional team since it started in 1994, has already confirmed he will be moving on.
Madariaga has said - although he was unavailable for comment following the latest reports - that he would continue working with the Foundation, as well as with what has been Euskaltel-Euskadi’s feeder Continental team, Orbea, and amateur squad Naturgas, both of which are run under Foundation auspices.
The Foundation itself is a unique structure in cycling: formed in 1994 purely thanks to financial contributions from Basque cycling fans, it oversaw the creation of the original Euskadi team. When in 1997 the team ran into major economic troubles for a second time and was on the point of folding, Euskaltel, the Basque Country’s best-known telephone company, became the main sponsor.
If confirmed, Euskaltel’s decision to continue would not just be the second time it has ‘saved’ the team from extinction. It would also be a rare bright spot in a decidedly difficult era for sponsorship in Spain. Spain has just six teams in professional cycling’s three divisions and only two - Movistar and Euskaltel-Euskadi - in the WorldTour.