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Euskaltel's announcement that team leader Iban Mayo is set to end his association with them is not the most surprising piece of news given the lack of agreement between the two parties during negotiations over a new contract in recent weeks. Mayo has already appeared on Basque TV to confirm he is set to talk to Saunier Duval, where his own manager, Sabino Angoitia, is part of the management team.
A press release from Euskaltel on Tuesday evening revealed that Mayo had told them at 6.30 that same evening that he would not be continuing his link with the team with which he has spent his whole pro career. "In a brief conversation, Iban Mayo did nothing more than confirm the suspicions that had been growing within the 'orange' team for a few days," said the release. It added that "the reason put forward by the rider for not continuing with the team was his disagreement with the internal ethical code, a document which all Euskaltel riders have to sign."
Mayo told Basque TV that "the Saunier team had made a great effort on the financial side. I am grateful to them for that I will be speaking to them imminently. They are the team that are interesting me the most, and my friend Sabino Angoitia is there as well. They have faith in me and that is important. We will see what happens in the next few days, but that is the team that I am closest to."
It is believed, however, that Saunier's offer is well below the wage Mayo is currently earning at Euskaltel, which was largely based on a desire to hang on to him following his Tour de France stage victory at Alpe d'Huez and sixth place overall in 2003. Since then, Mayo has consistently flattered to deceive, winning the main mountain stage at this year's Dauphin Libr, but then failing to contend once again at the Tour.
According to Euskaltel team manager Miguel Madariaga, "we were keener on having Mayo continue with us that he was to continue with us". For his part, Mayo told Basque journalists: "It's upsetting to leave this team I've spent seven years with. It's my home team, but I think the fans know that circumstances have become difficult."
Saunier Duval have confirmed the signing of another Euskaltel rider, Iker Cama¤o. "I've spent three very good years with the team and it has been a difficult decision to make, but one I had to do as it was now or never. I want to make a leap in the quality of my riding and I think a change of scene will help that," said Cama¤o, who has signed a two-year deal.
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