Caja Rural-RGA sports director Jaime Gutierrez has confirmed that negotiations to sign Luis León Sánchez are "at an advanced stage" but that as yet - "unless something's happened this morning that I haven't heard about" - the Spanish rider has not inked a definitive deal with Spain's only Pro Continental squad.
"We are talking, that's for sure," Gutierrez told Cyclingnews. "If he came to the team, he's a great rider and he'd suit our squad down to the ground, it'd be a huge step forward."
"But as yet, it's not 100 percent confirmed."
Sánchez had steadfastly denied alleged links with controversial doctor Michele Ferrari but according to a Belkin spokesman in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, "His name had been mentioned in too many cases." After being sidelined by Belkin for much of the first half of 2013 before returning to racing in May, Sanchez also claimed a silver and bronze in the national championship time trial and road race, but then did not take part in the Tour de France and abandoned the Vuelta a Espana.
A possible return to Movistar for 2014 was rumoured, but the former Clásica San Sebastian and multiple Tour de France stage winner is now close - although it is not yet certain - to becoming a lead name in Caja Rural-RGA.
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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