Geox-TMC: Cobo and De La Fuente free to negotiate elsewhere
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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Geox-TMC: Cobo and De La Fuente free to negotiate elsewhere

by VeloNation Press at 8:01 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Management continues fight to save team, but can’t stop top riders leaving

Juan Jose CoboStill trying to secure a replacement title sponsor after its main backer walked away, the management behind the Geox TMC team has said that it has told Vuelta a España winner Juan Jose Cobo that he is free to leave the team if he can find another option. Sporting manager Josean Matxin Fernandez still hopes that backing will be found and that he might stay on board, but realises that after missing the earlier UCI deadline his riders are not obligated to do so.

“What has happened as regards him and [David] De La Fuente is that we are trying to give them a solution that they don’t have to wait,” he told Cadena Cope in an interview carried out yesterday evening. “If in this quest we get to continue the project, we will tell them right away; if they decide to stay, great…if they move on to another team, we understand.”

The team’s other top rider, Denis Menchov, was yesterday reported as being in negotiations with the Katusha team about a possible move there.

The UCI confirmed yesterday that the Licence Commission might decide to accept a late submission of the bank guarantee necessary as part of the process to secure team registration and chase a ProTeam licence. However as its spokesman Enrico Carpani told VeloNation, there was no certainty what it would decide, and that the acceptance or not of the guarantee would be completely up to that commission.

Matxin said yesterday that he was still hopeful that the Geox TMC team could secure backing and push for a ProTeam licence. The mood now appears to be a little more pragmatic; he seems to see a Pro Continental licence as the more likely target, due perhaps to his acceptance that his big riders are considering moving elsewhere and also because the search for sponsors is dragging on longer than he would have hoped.

“The current situation today is that there are companies interested in this project but no one makes a commitment which, actually, is not very big [in terms of expense],” he said. “It is the minimum [required] to be the first name [title sponsor – ed.] and participate in the best races of the world…a sufficient guarantee to have a return on investment.

“There are certain things, but nothing finalised,” he said, saying that now they need to get to the point of agreeing terms and signing a contract.

When the surprise announcement came through that Geox was going to pull its backing, Matxin and the others were stunned. He said that he was convinced that there was a two year contract in place and thus they could go ahead and plan for next season.

The management structure has stated that it will take Italian footwear manufacturer Geox to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but even if it eventually secures compensation for the breach of contract, that process will take several months at least.

In the meantime, Matxin and others will do what they can to try to keep things on the road and prevent the collapse of the team and the jobs linked to it. “The UCI doesn’t believe it is in the position to leave more than 50 families on the street,” he said, suggesting that the governing body may be understanding in terms of a late payment of bank guarantees. “We will try to continue this project.”



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