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Fernando Alonso says cycling team is still on track

Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso insists his plans to become a team owner in professional cycling are still "perfectly on time" amid suggestions he was set to shelve the project.

Alonso came close to completing a takeover of the Basque Euskaltel Euskadi team last autumn, but the deal fell through.

The double F1 world champion subsequently stated he would build his own team "from scratch" if necessary with the objective of becoming one of the 18 top-tier UCI WorldTour teams guaranteed entry to the top events, including the blue riband Tour de France.

In recent months there have been sporadic reports suggesting the Fernando Alonso Cycling Team (FACT) project, headed by former Italian national cycling team coach Paolo Bettini, was being abandoned.

But Bettini has been reported in the cycling press to have regularly attended events to lay the foundations for the team, and Alonso told reporters in the build-up to the Monaco Grand Prix that the project was on schedule.

"Looking again? We never stop!" said Alonso, when asked whether he was reviewing the project.

"When arrive official news, that news will arrive from our side, but of course there is a lot of tension and expectations, and all the news in the last five months was never from our side - only rumours and sometimes completely wrong news, but everything is still perfectly on time.

"We are doing [things] in a very professional way. We are doing step after step.

"There are some rules to respect, and we are respecting those.

"That is a surprise for some people but we never stop and everything that we want to achieve in these last couple of months we are doing."

Alonso has been linked to possible deals with several top riders for his team including 2007 and 2009 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, world champion Rui Costa and Slovak ace Peter Sagan.

There have also been suggestions that a takeover of an existing team is still a possibility.

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