End of an era. Euskaltel-Euskadi is set to close its doors at the end of the 2013 season, after failing to secure sufficient sponsorship funds to continue. Spain’s financial crisis ends the Basque team’s 19-year association with top-flight cycling. The riders and team staff were now told that they must look elsewhere.
During the Tour de France 2013 in July, the Basque team announced that they were pursuing additional sponsorship after telecommunications company Euskaltel, which has backed the team since late 1997, revealed it could no longer be back due to the economic crisis in Spain.
Prior to the team’s search for a second sponsor, they revealed that Euskaltel had increased its funding from €3.5 million a year to €7m for 2013 – out of an overall budget of €9m – but that it could not maintain that level of backing. It said that the situation was not viable for the future and that if a new sponsor was not found, the team would stop.
Today, the Basque team announced in a statement that it will not continue in 2014 due to its failure to secure a second sponsor.
“The arrival of a second sponsor, essential to ensuring the sustainability of the cycling team, has not taken place, which makes the continuation of the team in 2014 unfeasible. From this moment, Euskaltel will begin an orderly winding down of the project, including the immediate negotiation of the release papers of the team members.”
The team has been in existence since 1994. First, it was established as a project named Euskadi (means Basque country) and funded purely by the subscriptions of local fans. Basque telecommunications company Euskaltel came on board in 1997, and the squad has been a constant presence in the UCI WorldTour.
Euskaltel-Euskadi’s last grand tour will be upcoming Vuelta a España, where Samuel Sánchez will lead the nine-man team including Igor Antón, Mikel Nieve, Egoi Martínez, Gorka Verdugo, Jorge Azanza, Juanjo Oroz, Pablo Urtasun and Mikel Landa.