Report: Euskaltel riders free to find new teams

The riders and staff of the Euskaltel-Euskadi have reportedly been given the green light to look for new teams for 2014 by the management as the future of the Basque squad seems more and more uncertain.

According to a report in the Basque newspaper Deia, Mikel Astorkiza, the corporate director of Basque Cycling Pro Team, the squad's management company, told the riders competing at the Clasica San Sebastian the bad news on the team bus before the start of the race. Mikel Nieve, Igor Antón, Mikel Landa and Mikel Astarloza all rode aggressively in their home Classic but missed out on victory.

In early July, it was reported that the team had just 45 days to find a sponsor or it would risk losing its WorldTour status or disappear all together after a shortfall in funding from Basque public institutions left telecommunications company Euskaltel to cover the deficit for 2014.

There is no sign of a new sponsor coming on board and so the team management has rightly given its riders a chance to find places with other team. There is currently no sign that the team will continue even as a Professional Continental team with a lower budget and lesser race programme.

The squad also includes 2008 Beijing Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez and several international riders after the team dropped a long-running requisite that riders had to be born or have develop in the Basque region.

Should the team disappear, Spain -once a major powerhouse in cycling- will have just one WorldTour team: Movistar, and one Professional Continental squad: Caja Rural. And the Basque Country, traditionally considered the heartland of the sport in Spain, would be without its team.


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