Contrary to mounting speculation in recent days, the future of Geox-TMC has not been jeopardized by the team’s failure to obtain a UCI ProTeam licence – although that future may now look significantly different as a result of the UCI decision.
On Friday rumours were rife that manager Mauro Gianetti had been eased out of the team in favour of former Mapei chief Alvaro Crespi. Calls to both Gianetti and Crespi on Friday went unanswered.
Meanwhile, one of the team’s star riders, Italian wunderkind Fabio Felline, told Cyclingnews that he knew nothing of the mooted management reshuffle.
Hours later, on Saturday, it emerged that Geox owner Mario Moretti Polegato had indeed reviewed and redefined Gianetti’s position – but that the Swiss would remain with the team alongside Crespi.
Cyclingnews understands that Polegato first approached Crespi on the advice of the latter’s former employer, Mapei kingpin Giorgio Squinzi. Mystified by the team's failure to secure one of the UCI’s 18 ProTeam licences and with it automatic entry to the sport’s major races, Polegato now wants Crespi to mastermind a new, long-term plan.
His commitment to professional cycling unshaken by the early setback, Polegato could even take full ownership of the team within two years.
“Liquigas own their team and that’s the model Geox seem to want to follow, but they don’t know enough about how professional cycling works to be ready,” a source close to the team commented. “Crespi could well oversee a ‘handover period’ of a season or two, after which Gianetti would move aside and the Geox company itself would control everything.”
In the meantime, Crespi and Gianetti will hammer out the terms of their working arrangement over the coming days and weeks, while also meeting with race organizers to seek guarantees about their 2011 calendar.
Rather ironically, thanks to Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov, Geox-TMC is currently one of only two teams to boast victories in all three major tours in its riders' palmarès (the other being Saxo Bank), but could theoretically be absent from all three races in 2011.