There are growing reports that Italian shoemaking giant Geox is set to make a surprise return to the sport as one of the main sponsors of the Liquigas team. The reports suggest that Liquigas is unable to continue with its current level of backing of the squad that features Vincenzo Nibali, Peter Sagan and Ivan Basso among its star names, and that Geox is set to step in with extra financing.
The move would be a surprise one following Geox’s decision late last year to withdraw its backing from the team managed by Mauro Gianetti and Joxean Fernández Matxín, stating that cycling did not fall within their business strategy. That decision came in the weeks after the team had won the Vuelta a España title thanks to Juan José Cobo and was made so late in the season that several riders and much of the team’s staff were left high and dry.
The reports of Geox’s possible return to cycling have understandably produced a good degree of interest in Spain, home to the outfit the Italian company backed last year. Contacted by Marca, former Geox team director Matxín said he had no real information on the reports, adding: “If what is being suggested does turn out to be correct, I would like them to clarify their situation and tell us what is really happening.”
The Basque team director pointed out that cycling is a good way for a company to raise its profile, estimating that “Geox received 18 million euros [worth of coverage] during the first 12 days of the last Vuelta a España”. Geox has subsequently focused its sponsorship on Formula 1, providing substantial backing to the Red Bull team of world champion Sebastian Vettel and Australia’s Mark Webber.