Mikel Landa (Team Sky) has officially taken over as president of the Euskadi Cycling Foundation from its longstanding director Miguel Madariaga, who began the project 25 years ago with the aim, then and now, of educating young Basque riders about their sport.
Back in the mid 1990s, Madariaga oversaw the creation of the Euskadi professional team as an extension of the Foundation. That squad became the first division Euskaltel-Euskadi squad, and lasted until it folded at the end of 2013.
Since then the Foundation has continued its work to build up and strengthen the grassroots base of the sport in Euskadi, called the Basque Country in English and considered to be Spanish cycling's heartland. But after some golden years, recently the Foundation has hit hard times financially and after more than two decades as the helm, Madariaga has decided that a new set of hands should move the project forwards.
Speaking with Madariaga in a press conference on the Vuelta a España's rest day in Logroño, Landa said, "when I heard what was happening with the Foundation, I couldn't look the other way if it was going to disappear. Everything I am as a cyclist, I owe to the Foundation." Having had a grant with the Foundation as an amateur from 2007 and raced with them full-time from 2008, Landa turned pro with Euskaltel-Euskadi in 2011 before joining Astana in 2014.
Landa also said, according to Spanish website ciclo21.com, that although the Foundation was not in a good state financially, there were no outstanding debts and there had been no discussions on whether he would invest his own money in the project.
Madariaga, one of the driving forces for the sport in the region for more than two decades, recognised that economically the Euskadi Foundation was in a difficult position and that Landa had called him during the Tour de France to see what could be done.
"We met after the Tour and in 20 minutes, we sorted everything out," Madariaga said, according to ciclo21.com.
The current annual budget is reported to be between 250,000 and 300,000 euros.
"We don't know yet what plans we will have, but the objective is the Foundation should not disappear, we may create a Continental team, or continue as amateurs," Landa said. "We'll see. But the Foundation will continue to back Basque riders or those whose formative years as racers took place in the Basque Country."
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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