Spanish team Geox is hoping to secure new sponsorship before the UCI Professional Continental license attribution deadline of November 20. After the shoe manufacturer's sudden exit from pro cycling, riders, management and staff may have found a new backer to continue the team throughout 2012: a Venezuelan tourism programme called "Venezuela País de Sueño" (Venezuela, the country of dreams).
According to various news sources including Biciciclismo, the team's manager and directeur sportif Mauro Gianetti and Josean Fernández Matxin have travelled to the South American country on Thursday last week for a series of meetings to secure the desired contract with the Venezuelan authorities. "I hope this will be the beginning of a great project! The dream can become reality in this land of dreams!" Matxin wrote on his Facebook account as he published a picture of one of the meetings.
Several Venezuelan riders have been supporting the two European directors, including the winner of the UCI America Tour ranking Miguel Ubeto, who is set to join the squad if it continues. "Venezuela País de Sueño will be a professional team in which we will survive and win and with which we'll be able to promote our home country. Venezuela País de Sueño will be training athletes, coaches, mechanics, masseurs, and the whole of cycling will benefit. Please support us!" Ubeto tweeted most recently.
Should the sponsorship come to life, not only a professional Continental team is reported to be planned but a complete cycling project encompassing all levels and disciplines.
"We are negotiating to form a professional team that will feature in all disciplines (road, track, MTB and BMX) to be able to fly our national flag high up on all continents. The idea is to create a professional team that will make history abraod," added Tomas Gil, another Venezuelan rider. Both the continuation of a high-level team in Europe with up to 10 Venezuelan riders is envisaged, as well as a Continental team that would race events in South America.
Gianetti and Matxin have less than one week to finalise a contract that would save the team which still includes 2011 Vuelta a Espana winner Juan-José Cobo amongst others. Both directors have nevertheless a vast experience in saving their outfit in the very last minute. In 2008, after Saunier Duval opted out of cycling due to doping scandals, the team's managing comany Bike Live secured American Beef to continue as second sponsor before getting the support of Fuji and Servetto. In 2010, the team's name changed again to Footon-Servetto before becoming Geox-TMC this season. Now, the withdrawal of Geox again puts the outfit against the wall.