F1 Summer Break 2015
Alonso confirms purchase of Spanish Pro Cycling team
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Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Sep 2013   |  8:21 am GMT  |  42 comments

Fernando Alonso has confirmed that he has bought the Euskatel-Euskadi pro cycling team and will become its new chief.

The team is one of two teams which represent Spain in the sport and has been competing in cycling events like the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta Espana for 20 years, with over 170 race victories, but was threatened with closure due to sponsor withdrawal. Alonso has guaranteed all contracts for two years, starting in 2014.

Alonso is a passionate bike rider, who covers more than 10,000km a year in training.

According to a statement on his website, “Apart from including this sport in his daily training routine, he (Alonso) has always felt a special passion for this particular world on two wheels.

“From an early age, the Spanish racing driver adopted the values transmitted by this sport; values which are an integral part of his personal and professional life philosophy and thanks to which he has been able to grow and reap success in his own sport.”

Alonso’s point of interest in the team is his friend and training partner Samuel Sanchez, 2008 Olympic champion, who comes from Alonso’s home town of Oviedo and who rides for the Basque team. However this represents a chance to do something wider for Spanish sport, to give a team which has always had a Basque heart a global reach.

The Ferrari driver came close to getting involved in pro-cycling a few years ago when another cyclist friend Alberto Contador was having problems sharing a team with Lance Armstrong. The Spanish pair discussed starting their own team but it came to nothing and then Contador was banned for two years.

Alonso is believed to have paid €6 million for the team, but the running costs will be the main thing. As Sanchez pointed out the team has 54 families depending on it for a living and the salaries of top riders are around €3-4 million a year.

Alonso will no doubt have a plan to use his profile and standing in the global sporting world to attract brands as sponsors. The obvious initial suggestion is Banco Santander, with whom he has long ties. It’s a difficult time for Spanish commerce, hence the problems for Euskatel-Euskadi, but Alonso wants to bring F1 levels of excellence to all areas from commercial to physical training to technical detail on the bikes.

The risk for Alonso, apart from the financial, is clearly with sporting integrity; should any of the riders be caught doping it would reflect badly on him, so he will no doubt insist on a zero tolerance policy, like the SKY team of Tour champions Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.

“Enthusiasm, seriousness, sacrifice, evolution and transparency are the words on which this team will build its foundations,’ according to Alonso’s website. “Alonso is thrilled to be forming an active part in cycling and to be able to improve the image of this sport. Transparency and “zero tolerance” will therefore be the fundamental pillars on which the foundations will be laid for this exciting sports project.”

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  1. holly says:

    A really nice act, not only he makes one of his dreams true, but help a lot of families to survive.

    Bravo Fernando.

  2. Joanna says:

    Alonso does not need to spend on a top line PR agency.
    The way Alonso exploited the media in making this announcement is way impressive. A couple of very neat tweets last week really milked the driver market frenzy. He is a grand master of PR

    1. Steven L says:

      He was the one who got milked, by RBR… They let him believe he was in with a chance, his public courting of them destabilised his relationship with Ferrari making him look stupid as well as disloyal.

      1. crespo says:

        What makes you think that wasn’t all by design? Alonso’s no sucker, he played off of all the driver market noise and brought this to the table. You really thought he was leaving Ferrari? Pfft.

  3. Matt W says:

    The integrity thing would be my main concern. He indeed has to have zero tolerance because if anyone in the team is implicated it will inevitably mean questions raised over his own doping status as an athlete himself.

    I’m a huge cycling fan but given the virtual destruction of the sport over the last decade it isn’t an area that I would invest. Good luck to Alonso, cycling needs people with a bit of bravery to help it recover.

    1. Konstantin says:

      I dont think all this can be called an “investment”. This looks more like an act of giving back smtg that you have got in excess… To hope for a RoI in monetary terms is probably not high on his agenda :-)

  4. Laurence H says:

    Whilst an admirer of his driving skills, I’ve never been a fan of Alonso’s personality. But as a fan of road cycling, this story made me smile and suddenly like him!

    1. zootrees says:

      I totally agree I think he is amazing, but was on the fence about him personally. Now I can’t help but like him. It sounds like more personal than business investment, that is pretty cool.

    2. Lucas says:

      I think it has been great what Alonso has done. However, I am not sure how much it will take away from his focus on F1 and I can imagine that Ferrari management might not be as excited about this move. On the other hand, this has been in the air for several years now, and due to the fact that Euskaltel could no longer extend it’s WT license, it was a “once or never” opportunity to get the rights to a pro tour cycling team. Chapeau Alonso.

  5. Luca says:

    Alonso does another smart,beautiful thing that will surely make him even more beloved by his countrymen. Passion and will: some combination.

    It would have been tragic not to see the men and fans of Euskatel at the next grand tour (can you imagine no orange at the top of the Tourmalet?). Much luck to the project.

    1. Krist says:

      yeah.. someone like Alonso put his foot into a fantastic and clean sport like cycling and suddenly this whole event gain even more in credibility…

      1. Ed says:

        The orange at the top of the tourmalet is dutch corner, nothing to do with euskatel

      2. Lucas says:

        Surely you didnt get your facts right. You are referring to turn 7 at the Alpe d’huez…

  6. Paige says:

    I’m also a big fan of cycling, and I think this is fantastic news. I think it’s great when F1 drivers show such enthusiasm for something outside of F1- it really rounds them out as human beings. I could see this being the career transition for Alonso when he finally retires from F1.

    Euskatel is always a very fun team to watch. You know they are going to try to pull some fireworks whenever there is a mountain stage in a grand tour or a hilly single-stage race. It’s great that they are going to stay around.

    As for their new team sponsor, why not Santander? It will almost certainly be a Spanish company, as it is a Spanish team (although more specifically, a Basque team) with mainly Spanish riders. Alonso already has a connection with Santander that goes back to the better part of a decade. And cycling teams are a lot cheaper to sponsor than F1 teams. (Plus, Santander already has a competitor in the sport in Saxo Bank.)

    1. puffing says:

      May be you are interested in reading this short piece of news.

    2. Jeremy says:

      As with most Banks, Saxo has left Men’s cycling. It’s Belkin now

      1. Jeremy says:

        My bad, I mixed by Saxo with Rabo, Saxo is with the Contador!

      2. Lucas says:

        It wasn’t Saxo that left, it was Rabobank that left and Belkin took over. Saxo Bank is still in the sport and Tinkov might extend the sponsorship for next year.

    3. Rishi says:

      Really good to see Fernando step in and save the team – a really nice gesture by him and good for the team. They are an exciting bunch with some talented riders (Sanchez, Mikel Nieve, Igor Anton) – particularly when it comes to climbing, though they can sometimes come a cropper on descents.

      I think when it comes to sponsorship the identity of the team will be very important. Traditionally it has always been a Basque team but they have relaxed that a little this year. The Spanish economy is not too strong atm (in fact a whole host of satellite Spanish sponsors have been dropping out of the sport since Operacion Puerto) but a big name like Alonso might be able to attract a big sponsor like Santander if they don’t mind opening up their identity to be more Spanish as well as Basque. Finding a Basque sponsor specifically might be harder – particularly a big-money sponsor. But giving the team a more global reach and attraction may attract sponsors from elsewhere to give an idea of “brands” with similar ethos. Time will tell but this is good news overall.

  7. Bart says:

    Wll, if money doesn’t bring you happiness, as some say, it may at least allow you to pursue your hobbies!

  8. Drew says:

    I didn’t know Fernando was a bike rider! Would they let him use the bike in Q3???

    1. Sebee says:

      Photo looks more like MTB rider rather than raodie.

      1. Lucas says:

        There are some interesting images of Fernando doing a 120km training session on the bike with a pro cycling team.

  9. Kieran Mathers says:

    Excellent! He might be personally quite difficult to like, but he’s clearly got his heart in the right place.

    It’s also great that he moved back to Spain a few years ago, because ‘they needed everyone to help.’

    Another thing I respect Flonso for now.

  10. Robert says:

    It is true…Alonso is actually becoming a nice guy as he gets older. Or, at least, nicer. Love his driving, but have hated his personality for so many years, but the past few have seen a slightly warmer Alonso on the grid, and now he does this…which has been proven time and time again to not be a sound financial decision (owning a bike team)!

    And of course, this pretty much guarantees him a lifetime supply of orange jerseys…

  11. jmv says:

    Great news for this cycling team.

    There is an element of this news that scares me too…I hope Alonso does not bring his win at all cost mentality in the management of the team.

  12. AlexD says:

    I am shocked to see how high are the salaried of top riders – 3/4M? WOW….just like in F1….it gives perspective.

    1. Aaron says:

      Very few earn that sort of money. Probably about 10 in the whole sport. To give you some idea, Team Sky have about 25 riders on their books. According to their annual accounts, their salary bill for 2011 was just over £11 million, which includes all the coaching staff. For sure they are paying Wiggins & Froome 7 figure salaries but the other riders will be on far less than that.

  13. cal says:

    he needs to concentrate on brushing up on his qualifying laps (as there have been reports ferrari are not entirely convinced he gets the maximum in that area) not diverting away from F1, i think this shows he is not 100% focused. start of the decline??

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      Alonso’s never been an out and out qualifier though, not exactly breaking news.

    2. puffing says:

      The Ferraris of recent years have not been the best cars for the qualifying sessions. Nor their settings, which have being more adjusted for racing. Qualifying and racing is a multi-task today more than ever.
      FYI, Total number of pole positions in F1, current drivers:
      VET, 39.
      HAM, 31.
      ALO, 22 (not all of them with Ferrari, indeed)
      RÄI, 16.
      MAS, 15 (indeed, not many recently).
      WEB, 11.
      BUT, 8.
      So, a lot depends on the car the driver drives.

  14. Random 79 says:

    After two and a half disappointing years at Ferrari Alonso finally hits on a plan to beat Vettel: BIKE POWER!!!

    Unfortunately for Alonso, see that second photo there?

    Vettel cam :)

    1. Sebee says:

      I thought you would point out the irony of the fact that Alonso was buying a team in a sport where success is defined by building the team around one star driver…I mean rider.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Just keeping you on your toes ;)

  15. JustGuessing says:

    Was it Ernest Hemmingway who said F1, Le Tour and Bull fighting are the only true sporting events?

    Never been to a Bull fight, but as an avid cyclist and F1 fan, I’ve often wondered if there’s a strong connection between F1 drivers and cycling – particularly Le Tour?

    1. Allan says:

      Actually, the quote is: “There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.”

      As an avid cyclist, I do wish the quote had been as you recalled it!

      1. JustGuessing says:

        Thanks Allan, I stand corrected.

        He should have included cycling!

        I hereby propose that there are only 4 sports and the rest are games.

  16. Lopez says:

    I find it funny how many people comment on how they disliked Alonso and that they are slowly starting to like him or that he is becoming more likeable with age.

    I have a feeling that the the majority of the British media has done Alonso no good in the past and has created a “character of him” who he is not.

    Since Alonso’s is behind his own social media platforms, he finally has a chance to personally show who he really is and be who HE wants to be.

    As a fan I might be somewhat biased but I also recognize that he has matured into his own man over the years.

    1. Konstantin says:

      Funny indeed. I liked him always. an always knew he wasnt that monstrum depicted by the british press. Even HAM started to like and respect him :-)…

  17. Sanjog says:

    Good on Fernando to step in and contribute to a sport that he is passionate about.


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