De La Fuente frustrated by Geox TMC situation, but wants to stay with team
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Saturday, November 05, 2011

De La Fuente frustrated by Geox TMC situation, but wants to stay with team

by Shane Stokes at 5:06 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Spaniard hoping that squad will somehow continue into 2012

David De La FuenteVuelta a España winner Juan Jose Cobo has said that he is willing to give the Geox TMC team more time; this is something which is of big consolation to the struggling squad, which needs at least one big name rider to help it secure a replacement title sponsor.

Another who says that he wants to stay put is the climber David de la Fuente, although as much as that statement is based on his feelings about the team, it is also one borne out of necessity too. Describing the news of Geox pulling out as the ‘worst news I could receive,’ he is, like the other riders, in a difficult situation.

“I want to continue on this team, I'm very happy, very comfortable and I hate to think that we might have to leave here,” he told El Diario Montanes. “Time passes and things become more difficult. There is very little hope, but I would like to stay.

“It's unbelievable. A few months ago we were the happiest of the bunch. I lived the happiest moment since I became a cyclist and now it is quite the opposite. It's a shame. “

After what was a difficult start when the squad was passed over for a ProTeam licence last year then not invited to the 2011 Tour, things certainly seemed to be picking up of late. Cobo started the Vuelta as a support rider for Denis Menchov and Carlos Sastre, but then hit the best form of his career and won the race. It was a win nobody expected from him, and it raised both his currency and also that of the team.

But not so for the main sponsor, Geox. When it initially came on board, media reports spoke of a five year commitment giving ten million euro per season. It was a considerably amount and with secondary sponsor TMC on board, the team was in a good financial position.

More recent suggestions are that the footwear company had committed to just two seasons; even so, the team should have been secure heading towards 2012. That certainty dissolved when Geox suddenly decided to walk away, stating simply that backing the team did not fit with its strategy going forward.

If a firm contract exists – and wasn’t based around a guaranteed start in the 2011 Tour de France - it’s reasonable to think that the team might try to chase compensation. That would take a long time, though, and the team needs to get something in place quickly.

Cobo said that it had 20 days left to do so; De La Fuente will keep his fingers crossed, but he’s worried.

“The teams are now closed and to find a place would be very complicated. I don’t know what will happen. Cobo or Menchov could find a team, they are very interesting riders, but it will still complicated.

“If they have a hard time, imagine the rest. Hopes are dwindling…it's November and it's too late.”

Hopefully he’s wrong and it’s still possible to either save the team or to place its riders with other squads. However the situation is certainly a very complicated one and the previous certainty that he would race with the team again next year is now looking very undecided indeed.

It’s an unwelcome, uncertain twist in the career of the most aggressive rider in the 2006 Tour de France.
 

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