Double Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso has reportedly taken over the UCI WorldTour licence held by Basque cycling team Euskaltel-Euskadi.
The El Periodico newspaper said on Monday that a fee of €6 million has been agreed with Basque Pro Cycling Team, the company which held the team’s licence.
A statement from the team, released shortly after the report was published, confirmed an agreement had been sealed. It read: ‘Euskaltel wants to thank the double Formula One champion for reaching an agreement and would like to emphasise the respect, understanding and love that Fernando Alonso has shown for the Euskaltel-Euskadi team, its professionals, its historical legacy and his hobby.’
Alonso’s own website confirmed he had ‘reached an initial agreement’ to buy the team, adding that he was ‘thrilled to be forming an active part in cycling and to be able to improve the image of this sport’. The report said that the team would be built around the ‘fundamental pillars’ of transparency and zero tolerance.
It is believed Alonso's personal sponsors, which include Santander, will help to cover the licence fee, although there was no initial confirmation of any corporate involvement or indeed what the team will ultimately be called.
Telecommunications company Euskaltel announced in August that it was to end its sponsorship at the end of the 2013 season, leaving the prospect of the team closing its doors. The company had reportedly already doubled its investment in the team, which was founded in 1994, from €3.5 million to €7 million for the 2013 season.
Alonso, a keen cycling fan who first expressed a desire to buy a professional team in 2009, will reportedly move the team to his home region of Asturius and base the team around Samuel Sanchez, a current Euskaltel rider. The driver’s website said that all existing contracts with cyclists for 2014 and 2015 would be honoured. ‘The wish is to provide continuity and grow the team little by little, incorporating top names from the cycling pack with the intent of a moderate transition towards an international project – whilst medium to long term, there is the firm intention of becoming a global model.’
Alonso currently lies second in the Formula One world championship, behind Sebastian Vettel, and was world champion in 2005 and 2006, whilst driving for Renault. The 32-year old, one of the sport’s headline acts, has a contract with his current team, Ferrari, until the end of 2016.
Alonso – Basque Pro Cycling USD5million-USD10million