PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
As was heavily rumoured last week, Basque telecommunications company Euskaltel have confirmed that they will be extending their backing of the 'men in orange' for another two seasons. Having faced the likely loss of their main sponsor after a lack of results over the past couple of seasons, the Euskaltel managed to turn things around this spring, mainly thanks to Samuel Sanchez's two stage wins at the Tour of the Basque Country.
Euskaltel president Jos Antonio Ardanza told AS: "The team has been totally renewed from top to bottom, its confidence has been restored and, above all, it was achieved success." Ardanza, a former Basque regional president, added his hope that the team "would not disappoint its sponsors over the next two and a half years and, above all, the fans who are always behind it".
Team manager Miguel Madariaga said the news brought "great happiness to the fans and, particularly, to the riders and our emerging talent who see in us the possibility of reaching professional status and riding at the top level in the UCI ProTour".
Madariaga's main issue now, having secured his team's future, will be to hang on to some of his biggest names, notably Haimar Zubeldia, who is reported to have approached Discovery Channel, Iban Mayo and Sanchez, who has already received offers from a number of teams. All three, plus 14 other riders, are out of contract at the end of the season.
"Samuel has received a lot of offers," Madariaga confirmed. "But Samuel knows all too well that we made him what he is, that his life is here and that he can keep things as they are." Madariaga added that Sanchez, who he described as "a real gentleman", is passing on all details of offers he is receiving. Discovery, CSC and Gerolsteiner all thought to be interested in the Asturian.
Much of the credit for Euskaltel's change of fortunes has been given to Madariaga's new assistant, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, and he admitted the former Euskadi, ONCE and Liberty Seguros rider likely to be Madariaga's successor "within the next two years".
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM