Fernando Alonso's cryptic Sunday night tweet appears to have less to do with his four-wheel future…. two full wheels less as it turns out.
While the F1 media chases its tail in search of the storyline, centring mainly on whether the Spaniard would be revealing a new team for next season or a new deal with current employer Ferrari, the truth appears to be that the two-time world champion has bailed out an ailing cycling team in order to fulfil a personal ambition.
According to various sources, Alonso has acquired the World Tour licence held by the Euskaltel Euskadi team, and will now set about remodelling it in his own image, starting with a move to his native Asturias. The team had been on the verge of closure, with its annual payment due to the International Cycling Union today (Monday).
Alonso has made no secret of his interest in getting more involved in cycling, a sport that has a massive following in his homeland, and is already close friends with Euskaltel Euskadi team leader Samuel Sanchez, who will remain onboard with the Ferrari driver. With Euskaltel withdrawing its sponsorship – the knock-on effect of co-sponsors failing to provide expected funding - the team will be rebranded following its move from the Basque region.
"Euskaltel and Fernando Alonso reached a tentative agreement that guarantees a new cycling team for the future," a press release from Euskaltel Euskadi confirmed, “Over the next few weeks, negotiations that have been ongoing between the parties will be finalised, culminating in Alonso's acquisition of the company owning the Euskaltel Euskadi cycling team. It's great news for cycling, since the entrance of a world-class sporting figure like Fernando Alonso brings a new future for the oldest team in the international peloton.”
Alonso's personal website also confirmed that a deal, while not completely finalised, was close.
“Fernando, 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,” it explained, “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.
“The double F1 world champion's great enthusiasm for cycling is well known; apart from including this sport in his daily training routine, he has always felt a special passion for this particular world on two wheels. From an early age, the Spanish racing driver adopted the values transmitted by this sport; values which are an integral part of his personal and professional life philosophy and thanks to which he has been able to grow and reap success in his own sport.”
Given the tattered image cycling currently endures, particularly following the Lance Armstrong affair and subsequent doping allegations from this year's Tour events, it is encouraging to read that Alonso is keen to rise above the sport's reputation.
“Enthusiasm, seriousness, sacrifice, evolution and transparency are the words on which this team will build its foundations,” his website emphasised, “Alonso is thrilled to be forming an active part in cycling and to be able to improve the image of this sport. Transparency and 'zero tolerance' will therefore be the fundamental pillars on which the foundations will be laid for this exciting sports project.”