CYCLING

Fernando Alonso rides to the rescue of Euskaltel

Formula 1 driver to buy out cycling team's ownership, guaranteeing its survival beyond 2013

Fernando Alonso (left) with Carlos Sastre (right) during pre-season in 2009.
Fernando Alonso (left) with Carlos Sastre (right) during pre-season in 2009. DIARIO AS / TDW

Formula 1 star Fernando Alonso and Euskaltel Euskadi have reached an agreement that will "guarantee the continuity" of the Spanish team "in the elite of world cycling" from 2014 onward.

Euskaltel's sponsorship for next season had dried up during the recession, with the Basque local and regional administrations pulling out of their association with the team, leaving a financial hole of 3.5 million euros. Euskaltel covered the shortfall for 2013 but announced during the Tour de France that it would not be able to meet its economic requirements next year and would therefore fold at the end of the current season.

The team issued a statement on Monday to the effect that negotiations with double world champion Alonso would be concluded in the next few weeks. The Ferrari driver, who was born in Asturias, is expected to acquire Basque Cycling Pro Team, the owner of Euskaltel Euskadi for six million euros in order to balance the books.

"It is wonderful news for cycling. The incorporation of a world-class sporting figure such as Fernando Alonso safeguards a new future for the oldest team in the highest level of world cycling," Euskaltel said.

The new-look Euskaltel might be led by Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez, and be based in Asturias. "One day I would like to have my own cycling team," Alonso said a few years ago. The driver is a big fan of the sport and habitually takes a bicycle around Formula 1 tracks before races.