Euskaltel leader denies rumours that he has agreed to join Saxo Bank
While most of Euskaltel-Euskadi’s big names have sorted out deals with new teams for next season, Samuel Sánchez, the Basque squad’s marquee rider, has admitted he doesn’t yet have anything in place for 2014. The 2008 Olympic road race champion has been linked with a move to Saxo Bank, but insists he has not had any contact with Bjarne Riis’ squad.
Speaking to Radio Nacional in Spain on Wednesday, the 35-year-old Euskaltel leader said: “As things stand today I’ve got nothing in place. It’s very difficult to find a WorldTour jersey for next year because all of the team rosters are pretty much closed. The economic crisis is affecting sport and cycling in a severe way. Teams are disappearing and this leads to a glut of cyclists on the market and a lack of teams to house them all.”
Sánchez, who had a deal in place with Euskaltel that ran until the end of 2015, said he is keen to continue riding following the collapse of his team, the only squad he has represented during 14 seasons as a pro. “This year I have perhaps not had the luck or ridden at the same level as other years but that doesn’t mean that next year I won’t have a stellar season,” he said. “My head is good and my legs are too. I just need to find a little bit of peace and sporting stability, and get back to working on the bike.”
The Spaniard rejected reports that he has agreed a deal to join his good friend Alberto Contador at Saxo Bank. “Up to now there has been no contact with the Saxo Bank team. Let’s hope there is,” he said.
Sánchez is not the only champion on the Euskaltel roster who is struggling to find a team. 2009 world under-23 champion Romain Sicard is also looking for a berth for next season.
The 25 year old from the French Basque Country has not won a race since he turned pro with Euskaltel in 2010, largely due to a succession of injuries. However, he completed his first Tour de France this summer and is on the radar of the leading French teams.
Reports in France suggest his best hope lies with Europcar, who have applied for WorldTour status. If this is confirmed by the UCI, Jean-Bernaudeau’s team will have to sign at least three more riders, with Bernaudeau admitting that Sicard is a rider he likes the look of.
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