David Blanco: “If Geox wanted to leave the team they should have said something before.”
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Monday, October 24, 2011

David Blanco: “If Geox wanted to leave the team they should have said something before.”

by Ben Atkins at 8:13 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Spanish rider hopeful that management will find replacement sponsor in time to save the team

david blancoDavid Blanco was one of the many Geox-TMC riders taken completely by surprise by the apparently sudden withdrawal of main sponsor Geox last week. The Spanish rider, who joined the team at the beginning of the year after impressing in 2010 with victory in the Volta a Portugal, but now faces an uncertain period while the team searches for a replacement for the Italian shoe company.

“Nobody expected it, and especially when contracts are signed, and the truth is it is very rare,” said Blanco in an interview with Sprint Especial. “We wait and hope that everything is resolved; we know something is happening, and we must trust Mauro [Gianetti] and [Joxean Fernandez] Matxin, who have always brought things to fruition, and hopefully this time will be the same.”

The timing of Geox’s announcement was what disappointed the riders the most. The team was preparing to submit its application to the International Cycling Union (UCI) for WorldTour status, having spent 2011 as a Professional Continental team. With the racing season over, and the majority of the big teams having settled their 2012 rosters, there is little time for the team to find a replacement sponsor or for the riders to make alternative arrangements.

“The truth is very sad,” said Blanco, “if they wanted to leave the team they should have said before, and we could all have been given a little more time to try to find something else.”

The loss of Geox is the latest incident in a stressful year for the Spanish team. Gianetti had been expecting to be granted ProTeam status in 2011, but was refused, and it then took a long time to properly kit out the riders. The biggest blow though, came when Geox-TMC was passed over for an invitation to the Tour de France, despite the presence on the team of 2010 third place Denis Menchov and 2007 race winner Carlos Sastre.

This latest crisis is the most serious though, and could see the team fold if a new backer cannot be found quickly. Having spent much of his career on smaller teams, 36-year-old Blanco is prepared for what this might bring however.

“We started the year with the problem of points and now this year we cannot find the bank guarantees,” he explained. “If I have to give up cycling then life goes on; thank god I have studies and I have two hands and two legs and I'm not afraid for myself.”

Despite missing the Tour de France, Geox-TMC won the Vuelta a España through Juan José Cobo, as well as picking up the team classification, which makes the sponsor’s decision to withdraw all the more confusing for riders like Blanco.

“The truth is that we did a great job for the whole season and we had the final team classification and the overall victory for Cobo giving a great lesson in teamwork,” he said. “In addition to the Vuelta I rode the Giro d’Italia and I'll was okay with not being able to run a Tour of France. It seemed that in 2012 it was going to be the same; it’s a penalty, but these things happen.”

So far there has been no definite confirmation of any of the current Geox-TMC riders finding contracts elsewhere. With time running out to find a replacement sponsor, so as to secure at least the same team status as this year though, it surely won’t be too long before the exodus begins.

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