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by Shane Stokes
November 4, 2014
A little under a month after the UCI confirmed that the Fernando Alonso Cycling Team (FACT) wouldn’t apply for a 2015 racing licence, former world champion Paolo Bettini has said that the long awaited team has been put on hold.
Although FACT indicated in recent weeks that a team in the peloton was still a target, Bettini – who previously had a managerial role in building the squad – suggests the project could be at an end.
“Unfortunately, and because of problems that is not my job to go into detail about, the Alonso project is currently halted completely,” the Italian told Procycling.no. “I still do not know the intentions for the future.”
Formula One driver Alonso is a fan of cycling and friend to riders such as Alberto Contador and Samuel Sanchez. Last season his representatives said that he was considering taking over the Euskaltel Euskadi team structure and WorldTour licence after it lost its sponsorship.
Then, last September the driver’s own press office reported that he had purchased the WorldTour licence.
This proved not to be the case and negotiations broken down, leading to the team stopping.
Alonso and his representatives indicated that they would build their own team for 2015, and at several points during the current situation there were indications that was still the intention. Bettini spoke to several riders including Peter Sagan.
However time passed without any announcements and rumours grew that the project had run into trouble.
In August Alonso’s agent Luis Garcia Abad moved to put such concerns to rest, telling AS that plans were continuing towards a 2015 start.
“There are still people working on the team,” Garcia Abad said, stating that the team would start from scratch in order to avail of the technologies that it wanted to use.
Worryingly, Garcia Abad appeared to show confusion about the process of applying for a WorldTour licence.
Fast forward several weeks and things unravelled, with the aim of a licence for 2015 abandoned.
However, although it was reported a month ago that Bettini was walking away, he appears to be open to the possibility of working with the team in the future.
That would depend on the project being reactivated. “If it is eventually decided that we should try to create a team, it will be a pleasure to dedicate to the project and put all my experience at the athletes’ disposal.”
Procycling.no adds that Norwegian riders Edvald Boasson Hagen and Thor Hushovd had previously spoken to representatives of the team. Boasson Hagen has since signed for MTN Qhubeka while Hushovd has retired.
Also see: Much ado about nothing: Is Fernando Alonso’s team a mirage?