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.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      Two of my favorite things, F1 and Pro Cycling..combined with a few of my not-so-favorite, Alonso and Contador but I have plenty of respect for both). Still, I think it's cool that he's going to step in a keep Euskaltel going. Strange to see them abandon Orbea, a Basque built bike for Colnago though (Italian) but whatever keeps them rolling is good I suppose.
        • 1 Year Ago
        I agree, it's pretty cool an F1 driver getting involved in my favorite sport.
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's worth mentioning that Contador was banned for two years for doping and that Spain was and still is a doping haven for many top tier teams. The good news is that cycling is hopefully on a path to recovery while it overhauls its image and cleans up its riders and teams.
      George Krpan
      • 1 Year Ago
      Back in the 90s Miguel Duhamel was in my cycling club. There was a Wednesday night pack ride in Griffith Park. Miguel said, riding around with this pack is as exciting as racing a motorcycle.
      • 1 Year Ago
      That's interesting that they are switching to Colnago. Hadn't heard that. I believe Contador is still under contract with Riis until the end of 2014 but Alonso might put up the cash to buy out his contract. The thing is, Euskaltel has always been full of tiny climbers and not powerful domestiques and time-trialists. Those are the type of riders that will help support a Tour contender to a win. With the new F1 connection, it's possible we could see some very interesting technology cross-over.
        • 1 Year Ago
        Probably not. The UCI is much more strict on advancements in bicycling technology than they are about combating doping. Much like F-1, it's supposedly done in effort to keep costs down and to make the racing more about the rider, not the bike. It's always going to be a mixed bag.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Euskaltel ditchig Orbea and going with Colnago? It is ferrari that was connected with Colnago, not Alonso, so when he does things outside his F1 racing, he doesn't have to honor whatever contractual obligations he had with Ferrari. Unless the Colnago deal is some sort of deal that benefits Euskaltel financially, given that Colnago is a bit bigger than Orbea, not unlike crapola bike mfgrs like canondale, trek or giant flooding the race because they are loaded with cash.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I was wondering if Colnago or Orbea would be the bicycle sponsor.