Fernando Alonso shelved his plans for a professional cycling team amid the turmoil of his switch from Ferrari to McLaren.
That is the claim of Paolo Bettini, a former cyclist who left his job as head coach of Italy’s national team in order to help Alonso set up a team for cycling’s top World Tour.
But during the course of last year, it became clear Alonso’s plans were fading and eventually the Spaniard met with Bettini to apologise.
“We sat down in December,” Bettini told the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport. “It was a frank meeting, we looked each other in the eye and he apologised.”
That is because Bettini, currently without a job, gambled everything on Alonso’s dream, which for now has been put on the shelf.
“If he needs help again and calls me then we can see if I’m still free and if we can find the right agreement. Would I be wary? Inevitably, yes,” he admitted.
Bettini said the main problem for Alonso’s cycling plans was the timing, as turmoil began to build at Ferrari last year and his negotiations for a return to McLaren intensified.
“It all started in the wrong year for Fernando,” he explained.
“His job is a formula one driver, so then the changes in Ferrari that everyone is now aware of began and he began to try to change teams.
“It was a crucial year for his career and he had to focus on that,” Bettini said. “There was no room for another challenging project, fascinating as it was.”
He said he has no intention of suing Alonso, even though his two-year contract to be the new cycling team’s director was technically breached.
“There is no legal aftermath,” said Bettini. “We are on stand-by. Fernando sees this team for the future.
“I know that may not seem credible, because there was also the attempt to buy Euskaltel, but we have talked so many times and I assure you that he is competent and passionate.
“He is also proud and does not want the story to end this way.” (GMM)