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The two Swiss riders of Footon-Servetto-Fuji, David Vitoria and Noé Gianetti (l-r), join Mauro Gianetti for a picture.
Swiss manager says he is not selling the team to the sponsors
Team manager Mauro Gianetti has played down reports there is a risk of Geox and TMC quitting the sport even before the team rides its first race, and has denied he is under pressure to sell the team after failing to secure a ProTeam license for 2011.
On Thursday Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Geox wanted to take direct control of the team because the Italian shoe manufacturer was unhappy with the way Gianetti had created the team. The Italian newspaper revealed that Geox has invested 2.5 million Euro in the team, and believed it deserved a place amongst the 18 ProTeams.
Gianetti built the new Geox-TMC team on the Footon-Servetto squad he managed in 2010. He signed 2008 Tour de France Carlos Sastre and 2009 Giro d'Italia winner Denis Menchov as team leaders with approval from Geox, but then failed to sign other high-profile riders to secure a ProTeam licence.
Geox has since hired former Mapei team manager Alvaro Crespi as a consultant to better understand the sport. Gianetti claims he is in close contact with Crespi and the Geox management and insists everything is in place for the 2011 season.
"I saw the story in Gazzetta dello Sport this morning and immediately rang the managing director at Geox. He assured me that they have no intention of pulling out and are likely to issue their own statement saying that," Gianetti told Cyclingnews.
"All the contracts between the sponsors and my management company are registered with the UCI and everything is in place for the 2011 season. I'm not at all worried."
"The idea that I'm going to sell the team is just absurd because they haven't even asked me to sell it. I don’t know why Gazzetta dello Sport decided to write that story."
Rather than recriminate about the team's failure to secure a ProTeam licence, Gianetti preferred to look ahead. He is convinced the team will be invited to the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France.
"We're obviously all disappointed not to be a ProTeam in 2011 but there's nothing we can do about that," he said. "Now it's important we work hard together to convince the major race organisers to invite us to their events, especially to the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France. I don't think it should be a problem because we've got two great team leaders who both want to race."
Gianetti admitted the team will not take part in the Tour of San Luis in Argentina as planned but insisted it did not indicate a problem.
"We've changed our plans because racing in Argentina would have meant an early start to the season, which we could have created problems for us in the summer. We've got a lot of young riders and so it's better to start of the season gradually."