Four years ago, Scuderia Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso wanted to start a cycling team that would be built around Alberto Contador, who was Spain's national cycling triumph and multiple winner of the Tour de France. It didn't work out, but it seems Alonso hasn't walked away from a sport he loves, putting his money where his pedals are and buying the World Tour license of the top-tier Spanish team Euskaltel-Euskadi for six million euros ($7.9M US).
Spain was once, and recently, a cycling powerhouse, fielding big-budget teams with riders that were contenders for outright or stage victories in huge races like the Tour of Italy, Tour de France and Tour of Spain. This year there is only one Spanish team registered in the top tier, which is a bit like having only one British engine manufacturer in Formula One - and that requires counting Mercedes HPP based in Brixworth, England as British.
The commercial backers behind Euskaltel- Euskadi had announced they wouldn't renew, and unable to find a sponsor this late in the season it was presumed that the team in orange outfits representing their Basque homeland would disappear from the sport, taking Spanish representation with it. Alonso's purchase of the team's license to race at the top level, aided by his personal sponsor Santander, means it will live on but no one knows yet how it will look.
Alonso, from the Asturias region of Spain - two regions to the east of the Basque region, said in 2010, "Creating a top team and being in a position to win the Tour de France will give me a nice feeling." If you're wondering what any of this has to do with the image above, that's Fernando Alonso pulling a stunt on a bike at the Ferrari factory while doing a promo for Colnago's new bicycles at Fiorano last year. The F1 driver has a meeting with Italian bike maker Colnago, with whom he has a personal contract, this weekend during the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. You can watch the video below.