Basque races rescued by Spanish bank

One of Spanish biggest banking groups has stepped in to secure the immediate future of two of the country’s leading races thanks to an eleventh-hour deal. The Basque-based Sababell Guipuzcoano bank has agreed to back the Tour of the Basque Country and the San Sebastián Classic for the next two seasons, staving off the threatened suspension of both events.

Jaime Ugarte, president of Organizaciones Ciclistas Euskadi, which organises both races, had said that neither race would take place this year unless someone could fill a €150,000 hole in the OCE’s budget by today [Monday]. Announcing the deal with the Basque enterprise that is part of Spain’s sixth-biggest banking group, Ugarte said: “I wouldn’t wish what we have experienced over the last month and a half on anyone.

“We’ve experienced growing trepidation and physical and mental exhaustion, as we’ve been to meetings, done interviews and put out press releases. We will attempt to put all that behind us now as we start to focus on our real task which is to organise the Tour of the Basque Country on April 2-7 and the San Sebastián Classic on August 14.”

Ugarte also paid fulsome tribute to the many offers of support and encouragement his team have received over recent weeks. He also thanked Sabadell-Guipuzcoano for “their positive response to our request for help in this last crucial moment.”

The OCE’s president explained that all the necessary documentation required for the staging of both races has been sent to the UCI this afternoon, adding that it had been received “with great happiness.”

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).