Eusebio Unzue has taken his team from Banesto to Caisse d'Epargne and is ready to continue it with Movistar in 2011. The coming year will be one of transition, he admitted, with possibly no big-name captain.
The team lost its former captain, Alejandro Valverde, when he was given a worldwide two-year ban for doping, which runs through December 31, 2011.
In an interview with biciciclismo.com, however, he indicated that Franco Pellizotti may be joining the team. “It depends on the UCI,” Unzue said. The Italian was temporarily suspended in May due to what the UCI claimed were suspicious blood values. The Italian anti-doping tribunal dismissed the charges this autumn, and while Pellizotti is free to find a new team, there is uncertainty as to whether the UCI will appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The late arrival of Movistar as the new sponsor cost the team some riders, but he is still optimistic. “True, we have lost some riders because the arrival of Movistar was so late and some had already been committed elsewhere,” he noted. “It is clear that we have to wait a year for our great leader, Alejandro (Valverde), But our reinforcements, without big names, will give you much strength to the team because many of them have good records in the sporting aspect.
2011 will be a transition year, “but we're not going to stop being ambitious in terms of objectives because the level of the group is truly good. “ New, safe equipment will help, but the turnover of such a large number of riders necessarily “means some questions.”
Banesto was the title sponsor from 1990 to 2003, and co-sponsor until 2005. Another similar long-term sponsorship “is a dream, we must be more realistic. In sports sponsorship is all in the short to medium term.,” Unzue said.
He especially praised Movistar for publicly showing its faith in cycling at this time, with doping investigations and rumours swirling around. “It is not even two percent of the riders doing things wrong. You can't ignore the other 98% that is doing well.” He hopes that the Spanish telecommunications firm will lead the way, and attract more sponsors to the sport.