Spanish coach set for sack?

Four world road titles in six years is an enviable record, but it might not be enough to keep Spanis

Four world road titles in six years is an enviable record, but it might not be enough to keep Spanis
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Spanish national team coach Paco Antequera looks set to leave that position after backing the losing candidate in this weekend's election for the presidency of the Spanish cycling federation. Antequera, who recently signed a four-year extension to his contract with the Spanish federation, openly backed the candidacy of previous president Manuel Perez. However, Perez lost this weekend's vote to the federation's vice-president Fulgencio Sanchez. Although Antequera boasts an incredible record in guiding Spain to four world road titles in the past six years, his tactical awareness on a political level is very much open to question after he threw his weight firmly behind Perez just weeks after agreeing what is believed to be a lucrative four-year deal to continue as national coach. Sanchez says he has nothing personal against Antequera, but believes Antequera has put himself into a difficult position. "It seems quite serious to me that he has agreed a renewal of his contract when he didn't know who the new president was going to be," Sanchez told AS. "It seems to me that something dirty has been going on. The renewal was negotiated with the condition that support was given in the elections. This does not seem right to me, neither on the part of the person offering that deal, nor on the part of the person accepting it." After adding that Antequera had "put his foot in it", Sanchez revealed that he would soon be looking at the Spanish coach's contract to assess what the rescission clause states in financial terms. The likelihood that Antequera will be paid off was only increased by Sanchez mentioning ex-pro Kiko Garcia and ex-Mapei and Festina team manager Juan Fernandez as possible replacements for Antequera. Speaking to Marca, Antequera admitted that his days in his present job are likely to be numbered. "I am well aware that I might have to pay the consequences. I decided to support Manolo Perez and I am not going to apologise for that," he said. As well as four pro road titles, Antequera has overseen a world time trial success for Abraham Olano in 1998, plus time trial victories at the under-23 level for Ivan Gutierrez (1999) and in the women's championship for Joane Somarriba (2003).

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