Caisse d’Epargne to become Team Movistar as Telofonica steps in
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Caisse d’Epargne to become Team Movistar as Telofonica steps in

by Ben Atkins at 10:04 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Spanish team saved as new sponsor secured

luis leon sanchezAfter months of speculation, the team of Eusabio Unzué has confirmed that Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica is to step in from 2011. It has long been known that Caisse d’Epargne, a French bank, was to quit the team at the end of this year but until now a replacement had not been confirmed.

The team will take on the identity of Telefonica’s cellphone network, to be known as Team Movistar.

Several sponsors have been rumoured to be stepping in to save the team, of which one of the strongest was Spanish financial giant Santander. The Santander rumour was to have been linked to a move to the team by Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, as well as the involvement of Formula 1 racing driver Fernando Alonso, who is Contador’s friend. The Tour winner has since signed for Saxo Bank-Sungard for 2011 though, and the rumour turned out to be groundless.

Unzué’s team can trace its history back to the Reynolds team of the 1980’s, which won the Tour de France with Pedro Delgado in 1988. Spanish bank Banesto stepped in as title sponsor in 1990 and the team went on to win the Tour in five successive years (1991-1995) with Miguel Indurain. Illes Balears (the tourist board of the Spanish Balearic Islands, including Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza) came on board as co-sponsor in 2004; Caisse d’Epargne joined in 2005, before becoming sole title sponsor in 2007.

The securing of a replacement backer for next year will help the team to hang on to its major stars. Luis Leon Sanchez and Jose Ivan Gutierrez have been linked to moves to Rabobank and Astana respectively; Team Movistar may have a chance to keep them on board.

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