By Alex Ballinger published
Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso may have left the peloton behind, but the pair have ambitions to help other riders hit WorldTour level through their own development squad.
Grand Tour winners Contador and Basso are both closely involved in Kometa-Xstra, a Spanish Continental team formed in 2018 from the Alberto Contador Foundation.
The team held their official 2020 launch in Valencia, Spain on Monday (January 27), and set out their plans for the coming years.
Kometa-Xstra fed four riders to the WorldTour last year, but team bosses have ambitions to take the squad to cycling’s highest level.
Basso, a double Giro d’Italia winner who retired in 2015, said: “In this team, we put in a lot of work.
“We have a lot of talent in all categories, with different priorities, but the most important thing for the juniors is the education. Our mission is to prepare them for cycling. We don’t know how many great champions we have, but we do have great people.
“This project started very slowly and over the years it has grown and taken on much more ground. We look to the future with ambition.”
Basso is the sport manager for the continental squad, while Alberto Contador’s brother Fran is the general manager.
Last season, the Kometa team parted ways with four riders who went on to WorldTour contracts – Samuele Rubino to NTT, Michel Ries and Juan Pedro López to Trek-Segafredo, and Stefano Oldani to Lotto-Soudal.
The team is backed by Danish businessman John Rasmussen, the CEO of Xstra Digital storage, who previously sponsored an early incarnation of the Tinkoff team.
During the team presentation Rasmussen, who was jailed for two years in 2010 for fraud, told cycling website Wielerflits the team has plans to develop into a WorldTour outfit.
Rasmussen added: “I decided to leave in 2006 because I found the [financial] structure unhealthy, but I am back because the fantast people behind this team have the will to change that structure and build a health professional cycling team.
“Kometa and Xstra are not just sponsors, we see ourselves as partners and as partners together we will build this team.
“Kometa and Exstra will grow this team to the highest level. We will create something new, something different, something beautiful, a team that riders, staff, managers, partners and sponsors want to be on.”
Both Basso and Contador also have chequered histories – in 2012 Contador was banned for two years and was stripped of the 2010 Tour de France victory after testing positive for clenbuterol, while Basso was banned for two years in 2007 after he was linked with the Operation Puerto blood doping investigation.
The pair both returned from their suspensions to win Grand Tours.
Alex is the digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter and now as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output.
Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) and joining CW in 2018, Alex has covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.
Away from journalism, Alex is a national level time triallist, avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.