Skip to main content

F1 star Fernando Alonso saves Spanish cycling team

September 3, 2013 -- Updated 0957 GMT (1757 HKT)
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso is preparing to become a team boss after announcing plans to buy the Euskaltel Euskadi cycling team.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso is preparing to become a team boss after announcing plans to buy the Euskaltel Euskadi cycling team.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso agrees a deal to buy the Spanish Euskaltel Euskadi cycling team
  • The Formula One driver plans to start work building a new team for 2014
  • Euskaltel did not have funding to continue racing next season
  • The team was famous for only employing riders born in the Basque region of Spain

(CNN) -- Formula One's highest-paid driver Fernando Alonso is splashing out on his own team but his new venture relies on pedal power instead of horsepower.

The double Formula One world champion, who earns over $30 million a year according to Forbes, has decided to save the cash-strapped Spanish Euskaltel Euskadi cycling team.

"We are pleased to announce that the Spanish sportsman has reached an initial agreement to buy the cycling team and so avoid its demise," said a statement on Alonso's personal website.

Euskaltel added in a statement: "During the next few weeks negotiations will be finalized [to] formally give Alonso the acquisition of Basque Pro Cycling, which owns the team.

"The agreement guarantees the continuity of the Euskaltel Euskadi team in the elite of world cycling from 2014.

Road cars with F1 technology
How does Jenson Button keep fit?
Fernando Alonso's drive to the top
Cycling for a better future

"This guarantees a new future... Euskaltel wants to thank and emphasize respect, understanding and love that Fernando Alonso has shown for the team, its practitioners, its historical legacy and his hobby."

Euskaltel Euskadi was famous for only employing riders born in the Basque region of northern Spain -- as well its bright orange cycling lycra team kit.

The team changed its selection criteria in 2012 and now employs riders from other regions of Spain as well as Slovenia, Morocco, Germany and Russian.

But the team feared it would have to quit cycling's World Tour at the end of the 2013 season after losing sponsorship from the Basque authorities because of the economic downturn in Spain.

The team confirmed to CNN that Eustkaltel, the leading telecommunications company in the Basque region, had paid more than 7m euros to keep the team going in 2013 but could not afford to continue to fund the team alone next season."

Alonso's decision to step in and spend some of his annual salary from Ferrari has effectively saved the team.

The racer has been motivated by patriotism as well as his other passion -- cycling.

Two-wheeled racers

The 32 year old Spaniard regularly cycles as part of his training regime and he is not alone in his passion for cycling within F1's fraternity.

Red Bull racer Mark Webber is also a keen amateur cyclist, although the Australian broke his leg after being knocked off his bike before the 2009 F1 season.

McLaren's Jenson Button and Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg both ride as part of their triathlon training while French four time world champion Alain Prost says cycling has become his "all consuming passion" since quitting F1.

Alonso, who chose to move back from Switzerland to Spain in part to help his homeland through its economic crisis, now plans to help turn around the fortunes of the Euskaltel team.

"As of today we will start to work against the clock," the statement on the racer's website said.

"With maximum effort and humility, and transferring the best of our professional experience, in order to be capable of starting the first races of the 2014 season with a new team, full of desire and with a fighting spirit."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Track the buzz of the 2014 Formula One season, race by race, with all the latest social reaction from motorsport experts.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
Take the fittest driver in Formula One and test him against two of the world's leading triathletes in a high-performance laboratory.
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 1604 GMT (0004 HKT)
Mercedes has the fastest two cars in Formula One this season but there is just one problem -- there can only be one world champion.
He's the best of the rest -- Daniel Ricciardo has been Formula One's surprise package in the first half of the 2014 season.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
Formula One is not likely to go hungry in Hungary as master chefs cater in volume for drivers, teams and VIP guests.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 1443 GMT (2243 HKT)
It's the elephant in the room of Formula One. What's the prognosis legendary driver Michael Schumacher?
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 2310 GMT (0710 HKT)
It stimulates all five senses, creating an unparalleled experience for drivers and fans alike. Take a tour of Monaco with Mark Webber.
May 22, 2014 -- Updated 1233 GMT (2033 HKT)
To be a champion you must win a title -- but to become an F1 legend you must win races at Monaco, the calendar's most testing circuit.
May 5, 2014 -- Updated 1238 GMT (2038 HKT)
The Formula One driver transcended his sport and even 20 years after his death, Ayrton Senna commands the adoration of fans worldwide.
May 1, 2014 -- Updated 1500 GMT (2300 HKT)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY IN ARABIC BY SUHEIL HOWAYEK: (FILES) Brazilian F1 driver Ayrton Senna adjusts his rear view mirror in the pits 01 May 1994 before the start of the San Marino Grand Prix. Senna died after crashing in the seventh lap. Some 45 drivers, including Senna and Canadian Gilles Villeneuve, have been killed during Formula One races whose tracks are dubbed by some as the 'circuits of death.' AFP PHOTO/JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU (Photo credit should read JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
F1's greatest racer was killed during the San Marino Grand Prix on May 1 1994. The sport hasn't been the same since.
ADVERTISEMENT