Financial crisis continues to hit Spanish racing calendar

Volta a Catalunya will end if no sponsor steps in for 2014 as Madrid race reduces to one day

Photo: Graham Watson

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LEON, Spain (VN) — Spain’s economic crisis continues to spin bad tidings for race organizers fighting to keep their heads above water.

Last week, the Volta a Catalunya held what could be its final edition, with Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) beating Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) for the overall.

The Catalan daily El Períodico reported that organizers were informed by the Catalan regional government that unless a private sponsor is found in time for next year’s edition, public money will not be available to pick up the tab.

The Volta is Spain’s oldest stage race and the third oldest in Europe behind the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, but it’s been taking on water the past several years.

The cash-strapped Catalan regional government has kept the weeklong WorldTour race afloat, but the worsening economic crisis across Spain is forcing dramatic reductions in government spending.

That story is repeating itself across Spain, where race organizers are facing a severe headwind against 25 percent unemployment and a bleak economic future with few available sponsorship dollars, either public or private.

“It is very difficult to find sponsorship money right now for cycling or any sporting event,” Spanish cycling federation president José Luis López Cerrón told VeloNews in an interview earlier this year. “Everyone is cutting back and we must find new solutions to our funding challenges. Everyone is doing everything possible to survive the crisis.”

López Cerrón told VeloNews that the Spanish cycling federation faced a 50-percent reduction in its federal subsidy, which is forcing it to reduce staffing hours as well as travel budgets and other expenditures.

Last year, the Vuelta al País Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) came down to the wire and was saved only when the regional Basque government made a last-minute injection of $250,000 to save the stage race as well as the Clásica San Sebastián.

On Monday, organizers of the Vuelta a Madrid announced that cost-cutting measures forced them to reduce the May event from two days to one stage.

Earlier this month, organizers of the Vuelta a Asturias in northern Spain reported that the race urgently needed $50,000 to cover costs in time for its scheduled dates, also in May.

Other races have also seen reductions in race days; for example, the five-day Vuelta a Murcia is now a one-day criterium, while others, such as the Vuelta a Valencia and Semana Catalana, have ended.

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