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Spaniard signed one-year contract yesterday and is likely to make his debut at the Tropical Amissa Bongo in January




25.12.2013 @ 11:14 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After months of uncertainty, Luis Leon Sanchez has finally found a new team for the coming season. Yesterday the Spaniard signed a one-year contract with Caja Rural and plans to make his debut with the team already in the Tropicale Amissa Bongo from January 13 to 19.


In a market loaded with talented bike riders, three riders that still haven't found a team for the 2014 season, have drawn particular interest: Chris Horner, Samuel Sanchez and Luis Leon Sanchez. Now it seems that the latter can finally prepare the coming season with peace in mind.


Spanish cycling website Ciclo21 had earlier reported that the Spaniard has signed a contract with Caja Rural for the 2014 season and that the official announcement would be made in January. Now Biciciclismo reports that he signed a one-year contract yesterday and that the official announcement will be made later today.


For the past three years, Sanchez has been riding for the Belkin team and its predecessor Rabobank but his links to several doping investigations saw the Dutch team buy him out of his contract at the end of the 2013 season. In the early part of the season, he was put on inactive status by Belkin when new links to Operacion Puerto were published in the media but after taking the case to the UCI, Sanchez was allowed to return to competition. However, his team decided to end their association with the former Paris-Nice winner at the end of the season.


Since then Sanchez has been looking for a new team and in early November Ciclo21 reported that the Spaniard was very close to signing a deal with Caja Rural. The team confirmed its interest but said that Sanchez had to reduce his wage demands if a deal was to be reached.


Instead, it was later reported that the team had finalized its roster as Caja Rural decided not to increase its financial commitment but the team actually never confirmed the story. Apparently, the parties have remained in contact and a few weeks later Sanchez' agent Angel Buenache told Biciciclismo that there were a number of offers on the table and that he would make a decision in the near future.


Biciciclismo reports that team officials continued their search for additional fund from private and their technical sponsors. Finally, they have found the needed money to add Sanchez to the roster.


Sanchez plans to make his debut in the Tropicale Amissa Bongo in Gabon from January 13 to 19. The team has sent the contract to the UCI for approval.


If the signing is confirmed, it will be a great boost to Caja Rural. The Spanish team is trying to internationalize its race schedule and has applied for a wildcard for the Giro d'Italia. The addition of Sanchez would significantly enhance the chances of a positive reply.



While Sanchez will not be able to return to the Tour de France where he has won three stages in the past, he would be able to ride all the biggest Spanish races, including the Vuelta a Espana. The Volta a Catalunya, Vuelta al Pais Vasco and Clasica San Sebastian are likely to become major targets for the Spaniard.


At the same time, Biciciclismo reports that Ivan Velasco will continue his career with Caja Rural. The Spaniard had a bad crash in the Vuelta a Espana that put his career in doubt but his team kept an open spot on the roster to allow him to continue if his recovery permitted it. According to the Spanish website, he will be the 20th and final rider on the Caja Rural roster.


Sanchez, Davide Vigano, Angel Madrazo and Pello Bilbao all join Caja Rural from the WorldTour while Heiner Parra and Luis Mas come from the continental ranks. Fernando Grijalva and Antonio Molina both turn professional with the Spanish squad.



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