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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) won the Clasica San Sebastian for the first time.
Races to drop down from WorldTour level due to lack of funding?
In a statement released on Friday, organisers warned that the two races may have to drop down from WorldTour level due to ongoing financial difficulties.
“After 51 editions of the Tour of the Basque Country and 31 of the Clasica, 2012 could see our races disappear from the international cycling map at its highest level, the WorldTour,” read the statement from Jaime Ugarte Arce.
In 2009, the Basque government signed an agreement with Organizaciones Ciclistas Euskadi to provide sponsorship to both races for four years. However, in May 2011, the Basque government informed the organisers that it would not be able to honour its commitment fully in 2012 due to the effects the economic crisis in the eurozone has had on public spending.
“Aware of the problem that had been created, the Basque government directly involved itself in the search for a new sponsor to fill the void,” Ugarte Arce explained.
That search has thus far been unsuccessful, with a touted sponsor understood to have declined to follow up on its interest during the week. After an emergency meeting in Vitoria on Friday, the Basque government has indicated that it will offer 60% of the necessary funding for 2012. Nonetheless, that sum alone is unlikely to be itself sufficient to ensure the races’ survival.
Friday was also the deadline for the organisers to indicate to the UCI if they wished to apply for WorldTour status for 2013. “We don’t know that to do for 2013 if we might possibly not even be able to organise the races in 2012,” Ugarte Arce admitted.
The Tour of the Basque County is due to take place from April 2-7, while the Clasica San Sebastian is scheduled for August 14.