By Nigel Wynn
Formula One driver Fernando Alonso has confirmed his purchase of Euskaltel-Euskadi's WorldTour licence, and will create a cycling team based around Samuel Sanchez for the 2014 season.
Spanish website elperiodico.com first reported on Monday morning that the cycling-mad Ferrari driver has set a €6million budget for the squad, which will also retain Euskaltel riders Igor Anton, Mikel Landa, Mikel Nieve, Gorka Izagirre and Jon Izagirre as well as Sanchez. The budget will be covered by Alonso's existing sponsors, says the report.
Alonso announced on Sunday via his Twitter account: "I have important news coming these days ... Stay tuned here on Twitter and on the Web.. !!!". While many F1 fans assumed he meant that he would be announcing a new
racing team for 2014, it was the confirmation of his involvement
with a cycling team.
He then confirmed the news on his website: "Fernando Alonso, aware of the current situation of Spanish cycling and knowledgeable of the sad news of the definitive disappearance of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team, decided to take an interest in the state of affairs of the Basque team with the intention of evaluating its acquisition in order to guarantee it's continuity," said the site.
"After various days of intense negotiations between both parties, carried out with maximum discretion, we are pleased to announce that the Spanish sportsman has reached an initial agreement to buy said cycling team and so avoid its demise."
He added: "As of today we will start to work against the clock, with maximum effort and humility, and transferring the best of our professional experience, in order to be capable of starting the first races of the 2014 season with a new team, full of desire and with a fighting spirit."
Alonso underlined that "Transparency and 'zero tolerance' will ... be the fundamental pillars on which the foundations will be laid for this exciting sports project".
Euskaltel-Euskadi was set to fold at the end of the 2013 season due to lack of sponsorship.
Alonso announced as early as 2009 that he wanted to get involved in forming a cycling team, and at that time expressed his wish to sign Spanish Grand Tour champion Alberto Contador.
Whether the team will continue with its trademark orange strip has yet to be announced.
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