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‘Conflict of interest’ forces Mikel Landa to leave position in Euskadi Foundation

Mikel Landa has been forced to leave his role as president of the Euskadi Foundation due to a “conflict of interest”, having saved the organisation in 2017.

The Bahrain-Victorious rider stepped up to help save the Basque cycling outfit, Fundación Euskadi then riding the 2018 season on the continental level before stepping up to ProTeam level last year, and it is this ascension back up the ranks that the UCI apparently has a quarrel with.

The cycling governing body’s regulations do not permit Landa to be president of an organisation while also racing for a rival team, with Landa and Euskaltel-Euskadi set to be in the same peloton at the upcoming Tour of the Basque Country.

The 31-year-old is said to have been left “saddened and upset” by the decision, according to Basque newspaper Noticias de Navarra, and does not agree with the UCI’s actions.

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The professional cycling arm of the Euskadi Foundation had ridden at the WorldTour level until 2013, Landa racing as part of the orange squad during its last three seasons.

With Euskaltel getting back on board as headline sponsor last year, the team’s presentation ahead of their first season back at ProTeam level was held at the phone company’s headquarters. Although Landa wasn’t present, a video message featuring the rider was played for those in attendance. According to the Basque newspaper, this detail was one that didn’t go unnoticed by the UCI, and it is said to have wanted Landa to put distance between himself and the foundation for some time.

The paper says the rider will continue to be the “beating heart” at the centre of the organisation, which also includes a women’s and amateur team, albeit not in an official capacity.

As well as riding their second season at ProTeam level, the Euskaltel-Euskadi are said to be setting their sights on a wildcard entry for the 2023 Tour de France, after the Basque port city Bilbao was announced as the location of Grand Départ, the first to be held in Spain since 1992.

The UCI has been approached for comment.

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