|© AP Photo/Mark Baker
Spanish Formula 1 star Fernando Alonso has reached a preliminary deal to buy the financially-troubled Basque cycling team Euskaltel Euskadi to help "avoid its demise."
The two-time former F1 champion's website said Monday that the "initial agreement" followed "intense negotiations" and leaves him "one step away" from acquiring the team.
A long-time cycling fan, Alonso was described as "thrilled" to be taking an active role in the sport and a chance to "improve the image of this sport" -- an apparent reference to the sport's doping-marred reputation.
The site said that under Alonso, Euskaltel Euskadi will honour the current contracts of its riders for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Samuel Sanchez, the 2008 Olympic road race champion, is among the team's star riders.