Bad news for Geox TMC riders and staff, team looks set to stop
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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Bad news for Geox TMC riders and staff, team looks set to stop

by VeloNation Press at 10:25 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Gianetti concedes that he won’t find a sponsor before final UCI deadline

Geox TMCA long battle to save the Geox-TMC team appears to be lost, with general manager Mauro Gianetti conceding that he has run out of time and that riders such as Vuelta a España winner Juan Jose Cobo are set to leave.

The team management missed the UCI’s deadline on Friday but was given an additional week to try to find a backer. Gianetti has conceded that there is nothing likely to happen in the days ahead and that even if some structure continues, it won’t be at a Pro Continental level.

“Ever since GEOX announced the end of their sponsorship, I have been doing everything I could to secure a new deal,” he said in an interview on c-cycling.blogspot.com. “But now we just have to face the reality of modern cycling. It’s extremely difficult to find a new sponsor and if you look around there are really no new sponsors among the big teams. Not even Highroad managed to find a new sponsor.

“Due to the low economy it’s just not possible right now and we have to face that. Maybe we can sign a deal in one or two months, because I’m really talking with a lot of companies. The opportunity is there but the time isn’t.”

The management company Bike Live understood that Geox would remain on board for at least one more year, but on October 20th the Italian company suddenly and dramatically walked away from the sport. This caused the team to miss the deadline for UCI ProTeam registration, meaning that it could only aspire to being a Pro Continental team in 2012.

Since then Gianetti and the team’s sporting manager Josean Matxin Fernandez have been searching hard for a replacement, with Cobo and others saying that they would give them more time to try to find a solution. That search led the duo to South America, where they met with representatives of the Venezuelan government to try to bring the country on board as a backer.

They returned from the country appearing optimistic, and also stated that they had an alternative, in the shape of a possible offer from a commercial backer which would also cover the costs of the team. Yet somewhere between that point and last Friday things unravelled. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was due to make a final decision but had still not committed by the UCI deadline; Gianetti suggests that the lines of communication with officials there are still open, but that no immediate decision is pending.

“The situation isn’t easy. Right now we are still waiting for a decision from the Venezuelan government,” he told C-Cycling. “It’s a big, long term project and of course you can’t just rush to a decision, I understand that. I’m in touch with them every day though, but I don’t think it will be possible to continue on the level we would like to next year.

“Maybe we can make a deal for 2012 to carry on with a smaller budget, but I don’t know. To be honest it’s very complicated right now.”

Gianetti has confirmed that Cobo has been approached by other teams, including WorldTour squads, and believes that he is likely to be part of such a setup in 2012. He also believes that Katusha should complete negotiations with Denis Menchov and sign him.

Three years ago the team pulled a rabbit out of a hat in landing Scott and American Beef as sponsors after Saunier Duval and Prodir walked; the latter had both backed the team, but quit after it was expelled from the 2008 Tour de France. Riccardo Riccò tested positive after taking two stage wins, while Leonardo Piepoli was a later determined to have used the same product CERA and lost his own stage victory.

Scott and American Beef enabled it to continue on then but, despite avoiding scandal and winning the 2011 Vuelta a España, it appears that the setup has finally run out of time.



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