F1 driver and keen cycling fan Fernando Alonso has revealed that he will be saving the Basque squad. Half of the 28-man squad have contracts through 2014 and 2015, all of which will be honoured. That means that ex-Olympic champion (and Alonso’s winter training partner) Samuel Sanchez will stay onboard, along with the other Basque big names Igor Anton, Mikel Nieve and Mikel Landa. The trio had all been linked with Omega Pharma-QuickStep recently.
Alonso has, in the past, spoken about starting a cycling team with his friend Alberto Contador, but that potential signing will have to be held off until 2015 at the earliest due to his current contract with Saxo Bank. The Basque squad had previously been linked with a Lampre merger and there was even talk of the colourful Russian Oleg Tinkov taking over the license, but those options have both proven to be unfounded rumours.
The keen cyclist and two-time F1 World Champion is a keen cyclist and has said that his team will be built on the pillars of transparency and zero-tolerance with regards doping. The new team will be based in Alonso’s home region of Asturias and will focus on regional riders.
Next up, some news on the status of the two ex-Farnese Vini riders Danilo Di Luca and Mauro Santambrogio. The puffy-cheeked wonder, who tested positive for EPO during this year’s Giro, could be cleared due to low levels of EPO found in his A-sample (probably due to microdosing). His B-sample has yet to be tested, and could fail to meet the threshold needed to hand down a suspension. If his B-sample is cleared then Santambrogio will be cleared.
Di Luca, meanwhile, is facing an 8-12 year suspension. The Killer from Spoltore has opted against analysis of his B-sample. In other words, he has as good as accepted his guilt. Today the possibility of him confessing and giving information to CONI has been raised, meaning that Di Luca could end up with another reduced sentence. Given his age and his reluctance to have his B-sample tested, it looks as though any suspension will be career-ending.