Long-standing Basque team, Euskaltel-Euskadi is suffering financial problems ahead of a new year and beginning. This weekend, Spanish media reported that the team’s out-going management company is selling its buses to pay wages.
“The sky is very black in Euskadi Foundation,” Miguel Madariaga told Basque radio, Euskadi Irratia according to Biciciclismo. “It’s the most difficult moment we’ve faced.”
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Today and tomorrow, Madariaga will try to strike a deal with communications company, and owner’s of the team’s new management company, Euskaltel. He said that the cyclists’ and staff’s November and December payroll totals €857,000 [£691,000] and the team buses are worth €918,000 [£740,000].
“These two days are going to be very important,” Madariaga added.
“The buses are my salvation and brokers. It’s a priority. We have to reach an agreement because I see no other way out. Euskaltel has to realise it. If we do not sell them, the Euskadi foundation is in great danger.”
Euskadi, and later Euskaltel-Euskadi, has been a staple of the Basque Country since 1994 and has animated the Grand Tours with is gifted climbers and bright orange kits. Jon Izagirre, Mikel Nieve and Igor Antón shined in recent years. The team’s top rider, 2008 Olympic Champion Samuel Sánchez is its only non-Basque rider, coming from nearby Asturias.
The team is changing, however, and welcomes in eight foreigners – from Portugal to Russia – for 2013. Euskaltel is taking over ownership and management from the Euskadi Foundation after former rider and sports director, Igor González de Galdeano struck a deal with Madariaga earlier this year.
Madariaga’s struggle coincided with Spain’s economic crisis. The team barely squeezed into the first division for this season and operated on a reduced, by €1.3m [£1m], budget. In April, foundation officials confirmed that if the team continued, it would be in the second division.
Euskaltel and González de Galdeano offered Madariaga a way out. Now, they must decide if they will help him solve his payroll problem.
“The problem is not just mine, it’s everyone’s. Euskaltel is able to address this situation. Keep in mind that almost all the cyclists continue with them and this would not be a good start. Before we get to that point, though, we have the opportunity to talk and fix it.”
The team continues with 18 of its current cyclists. It signed 11 new cyclists: Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spain), Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spain), Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spain), Tarik Chaoufi (Morocco), Jure Kocjan (Slovenia), Robert Vrecer (Slovenia), Ricardo Jorge Correia Mestre (Portugal), Steffen Radochla (Germany), André Schulze (Germany), Alexander Serebryakov (Russia) and Ioannis Tamouridis (Greece).