Banesto bow out after almost two decades, coffee company looks for new partners, Zuelle throws a par
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE The Banesto banking company has finally ended its long association with pro cycling after spending this last season as a subsidiary backer of the Illes Balears team. Their place on the jersey that seems almost certain to be worn by Alejandro Valverde next season will be taken by Air Europa, Spain’s biggest privately owned airline. As well as Valverde and Air Europa, the team has also reached an agreement for Volvo to supply them with cars, and is having discussions with Colombian climber Felix Cardenas. * The Cafs Baqu team for which Cardenas has won the last two King of the Mountains titles at the Tour of Spain is considering its options for 2005. According to Basque daily Deia, the coffee company is torn between agreeing to join up with the Colombian Orbitel 05 team, and bringing in half a dozen of their riders, or doing a deal with a major company that is part of the Basque-based Mondragon cooperative. The latter option would, according to Deia, result in Cafs Baqu stepping down to becoming the third-level sponsor of the team. * Alex Zuelle is to mark his departure from pro cycling by holding a party for his fans in his home town of Wil, Switzerland, on October 30. Zuelle has been a pro for 14 seasons, which started very auspiciously when he took the Tour de France’s yellow jersey from Miguel Indurain on just his second day in 1992. The Swiss went on to finish second in the Tour in 1995 and 1999, although in between those two successes he admitted using drugs during his spell with the Festina team. Zuelle, who also won the Vuelta in 1996 and 1997, has spent the last two seasons with Phonak.