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Fernando Alonso gets backing for cycling plans - but status of pro team project remains unclear

"MAMILs" - tick; cycling "the new golf" - tick; but F1 ace's entry into sporting side of cycing still unclear...

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso may be a step closer to realising his dream of launching his own professional cycling team after confirming he has investors on board. But a press release suggesting he has backing for the project or at least some involvement in cycling, raises more questions than it answers.

The two-time Formula 1 world champion has been talking about entering the sport since 2010, and last October was said to be hopeful of launching his own team at this year’s Tour de France.

That didn’t happen, but a statement issued this morning confirms that team or not, the 33-year-old, who hails from Oviedo in Asturias, north west Spain, is serious about his involvement with cycling and sees the sport as presenting  huge opportunity.

Today’s press release says that Alonso has teamed up with NOVO Group Holdings “to acquire a portfolio of assets whose growth they can help to accelerate” as he seeks to exploit what he is said to view as “a wealth of opportunity in the business of cycling.”

There’s no news yet on what that “portfolio of assets” might be, but one thing seems clear – Alonso is already delivering on his promise of bringing something new to the sport, even if that does just happen to be the arcane language of corporate finance public relations.

The statement ticks the two principal boxes often highlighted as underpinning growth in cycling – the rise of the MAMILs and how cycling is “the new golf.”

Alonso said: "I'm thrilled to be part of this new venture. I get to indulge my passion for cycling and obsession with technology and design with likeminded people. We see a window of opportunity and plan to kick it wide open!"

NOVO's managing partner, Nathan Pillai, commented: "Current social, economic and market conditions have created an attractive proposition for investors.

“Our research points to certain segments of the market where participation, consumption and media interest in all things cycling are on the up.

“Inspired by what we have learnt in F1, we see opportunities in high performance products, wearable technologies and content that serve these segments.

“We have access to off-market and proprietary opportunities as well as a competitive advantage over financial investors."

Pillai insisted that Alonso setting up a professional team was still a central part of the project, although no further information about a timescale for doing so, or how he would break into the professional peloton was given.

"Just as motor sport provides a platform for manufacturers to reach potential buyers, professional cycling gives us a powerful shop window to integrate our portfolio companies, conduct R&D and promote our activities,” he said.

“We want to create a competitive, sustainable team franchise that is loved and admired for its innovation, transparency and commitment to social responsibility. We are busy putting in place the foundations required to achieve the long term success we desire and will make an announcement on our progress in due course." 

Alonso added: "I've been fortunate to have worked with some of the World's most desirable and innovative companies such as Ferrari, Oakley, Renault and McLaren. In the relentless pursuit of success, I know what makes an organization successful. It is this experience and desire to win that I will bring to this project."

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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