With main sponsor Caisse d’Epargne pulling out at the end of the year, team manager Eusebio Unzue (pictured with Valverde above) is struggling to keep the team together.
Having initially announced some replacement sponsorship during the Tour de France, it turns out that he’s only lined about about €2-3 million per year, far short of the €5-8 needed to stay competitive. Indeed, if no sponsor appears then the team will likely end up in the Pro Continental circuit.
The Sanchez Solution?
At the same time Euskatel-Euskadi team is also faced with similar problems and budget cuts loom. Samuel Sanchez could move and he’s now thinking of linking up with Unzue, the idea being that dangling the Olympic champion in front of sponsors should make them open up their wallets. But this might help Unzue, only it means the Euskatel team could slip to the Pro Continental level. It’s all a jigsaw with parts of the puzzle being moved around.
Given all the success of Spanish cycling with Contador, it’s sad to see such a scarcity of sponsors and ambition. It could well be that both the main Spanish teams end up on the Pro Conti level and therefore ignored for many of the big races. It’s possible no Spanish team qualifies for the Tour de France in 2011.
Viva La Vuelta
If all this is speculation, one certainty is that this year’s Vuelta promises to be critical to Spanish cycling. We should see riders and teams alike trying to justify their existence, it’s a last chance shop window for riders and managers to prove their worth.
Photo: Daily Peloton