Geox TMC: Matxin says he’ll fight on until the end of December
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Geox TMC: Matxin says he’ll fight on until the end of December

by Shane Stokes at 7:36 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Sporting manager speaks about battle to save team

Geox TMCThe UCI announcement for Pro Continental teams has already taken place and the riders of the Geox TMC team are actively searching for new squads for next year, but sporting manager Joxean Fernández Matxin said that he will continue battling for another two weeks.

“I won’t stop fighting until the end of December,” he told VeloNation today. “With €1.5 million we can have a professional team. I will fight until I have no options left. I am a fighter and an optimist, even if I know it will be difficult. In cycling nobody ever said it would be easy.”

Matxin released two photos yesterday evening via Twitter which brought home what might have been. The first was the kit design the team would have used in 2012 had Geox not suddenly walked away from the sport in October; the second was what it would have used if the deal with Venezuela had come to fruition.

Venezuela cyclingBoth are bold, dynamic designs which would have stood out in the peloton and, ironically, ensured plenty of attention for the backers.

Matxin clarified the current situation, saying that there were still possibilities but that the clock is ticking. “There are several options open and also that of Venezuela,” he explained, “but the handicap is that time is against us. It is not easy to ask for €1.5 million in such short time.”

It is believed that the Venezuela project would have been set up with the country’s tourism board, and that it would also accommodate riders from that country, helping them with their sporting careers. Matxin explained that things had looked very good before, with an agreement being reached and a letter of intent being sent to the UCI. However he said that contracts nor bank guarantees were not completed by the would-be backer, leaving things up in the air.

While that door isn’t yet closed, it would be necessary for the South American country to start moving fast.

Cobo and De La Fuente still searching?

As things stand right now, the riders are known to be looking elsewhere as they need to secure employment for next season. Most teams have already closed their books, and so they must move quickly to ensure they are not left on the sidelines.

Of course, if Matxin does have the chance of getting a backer, his prospects of sealing a deal are enhanced if he still has strong riders to offer at that point in time.

Of the big names, Denis Menchov has already left, announcing an agreement with Katusha this week. However when asked if Vuelta a España winner Juan José Cobo and David de la Fuente are still available at this point in time, Matxin suggested they were.

“I’m fighting for my riders and for my people,” he said. “If they are all accommodated in other structures, I will stop fighting. I don't understand the other teams. If I had the option of signing Cobo or De la Fuente, I would do it as soon as I could. But maybe that's because I know them, and their abilities, very well. I do not see many teams that have two riders better than them.”

Cobo was recently rumoured to have been offered a place with Movistar. However suggestions are that he would get less than a quarter of what he would have got with Geox TMC in 2012, with a figure of €100,000 being mentioned. Whether or not that number is accurate, it is clear that his bargaining position is far off what it was two months ago. Likewise, many of the other riders will likely face a pay cut next season.

Should things happen to turn around and an eleventh-hour sponsor steps forward, the big question is if it would be too late to get a Pro Continental licence. The UCI’s deadline has already come and gone, but Matxin suggests that he would lobby for a place anyway.

“I don’t know what would happen, but this is not going to make me stop because I believe having an [extra] professional team does not hurt anyone,” he said. “We aren’t going to take the place of any other team, there are no guaranteed races in being a professional [Pro Continental] team.

“In fact, the Professional category is the only one that doesn’t entitle you to ride ANY race on the international calendar..they are all by invitations. There is also a precedent for a team that was authorized on 20 December, as was the case of Fuerteventura.”

Rather than pondering whether or not a licence bid would be successful at this point in time, he said that he’ll continue pushing forward and see what happens. “First it is necessary to have a contract and a bank guarantee and give those to the UCI,” he said. “Without that, I can’t do anything.

“I am a realist and this is very difficult, but also I am an optimist and am not going to just wait at home. I will fight for my people…they deserve it.”

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