Paolo Bettini denied that the new World Team team Fernando Alonso aspires to start has signed Peter Sagan or a title sponsor. "For now we haven't got anything. As far as we know we don't even have a sponsor but maybe we'll know something from Dubai," he told Gazzetta dello Sport.
Though various riders like Peter Sagan and Samuel Sanchez have been linked to the new team, Bettini is clear about the current status of the project. "Our team only consists of three people: me, Alonso and his manager Abad. Everyone is interested to get involved with us but I haven't even signed a contract yet. I can assure you that nobody signed, no sports directors, no riders and no staff."
Sagan was rumoured to be joining the Alonso project for a salary of 3,3 million euro per season. "I think his manager [Giovanni Lombardi] has gone over the top with his financial requests. If he's got someone to offer him that much I can't understand why he's not signed already. But I spoke with Alonso and he was clear. For that amount we could get three riders; one to stay on his [Sagan's] wheel and two to win the race," Bettini said at the GP Etruschi on Sunday.
Samuel Sanchez, who signed with BMC Racing Team, was also mentioned in connection with the new team. The former Olympic champion and Alonso trained together last week. "I’m just thinking in the short-term. For now, I know I’m going to race this year, which was my main concern," he told Biciciclismo.
Big names like Alberto Contador and Joaquim Rodríguez have contracts for 2015 but Bettini sees potential in the current peloton. "It's not true that there are no big-name riders available. About 80 to 90 riders are out of contract and half of those are interesting to us. About 12 to 15 riders are a priority because they are excellent riders." Bettini admitted however that it would be nearly impossible to win the Tour or a big stage race in 2015.
The former world champion and manager of the Italian national team will take up a role as consultant to follow the technical aspects at the team. Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Specialized offered 3 million euro but their link to McLaren, a rival team to Alonso's Ferrari team in Formula 1 racing could obstruct this deal. Reportedly Cervélo offered 1,6 million euro while Colnago, who have produced bikes with Ferrari in the past, is also reported as a possibility.
Though Bettini emphasizes there are no contracts signed for riders, staff and equipment he did say that the Alonso project will neither be an Italian or a Spanish team. "We'll be an international team,' he concluded."
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