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Ever since Italian shoemaker Geox pulled the plug on their team towards the end of October, team manager Mauro Gianetti and director Joxean Fernández Matxin have remained steadfastly upbeat about the prospects of finding a new backer. However, after contacting dozens of companies and getting some way down the road with the Venezuelan tourist board but failing to cement an agreement, Matxin has finally had to admit that there will be no successor to the Geox-TMC squad, in 2012 at least.
The team’s final hope was the Organización impulsora de Discapacitados (OID), a Spanish organisation that helps those with disabilities find jobs. Gianetti and Matxin initially made contact with the OID in 2005, but eventually negotiated a deal with Saunier Duval. They reopened negotiations following Geox’s bombshell. Although discussions are reported to have been positive, they have ultimately come to nothing.
“It’s been impossible. In the current economic era it has simply not been feasible, although I’m not giving up and will keep on looking for something for the future,” Matxin told Marca, indicating that that future is likely to be in 2013 rather than next season.
“We knew that it would not be easy, but I’m the most optimistic guy in the world and we’ve tried right to the last minute. We have been close on a number of occasions but because of the economic circumstances in which we find ourselves it has been impossible. I am sorry for all those who work with us, but they know that we’ve done all that we could.”
Speaking to Meta2Mil last week, Matxin said that he couldn’t remember how many companies he and Gianetti have been in touch with since Geox announced they were quitting the sport. “We’ve called so many that we’ve lost count,” he said. “But there is no other way forwards, you have to keep pressing and pressing.”
Matxin insisted that cycling remains the perfect avenue for a company that wants to broaden its image, and revealed that many of the companies he has spoken to have recognised this fact. “The problem is that they are all telling us that they are afraid to invest at the moment. You soon realise that a lot of companies are afraid of what the future holds, and that’s understandable,” he said.
Most of the riders on the mooted Geox roster for 2012 have found other options for next season. Of the team’s biggest names, Denis Menchov has been confirmed with Katusha along with Xavier Florencio, Colombian Fabio Duarte and Mauricio Ardila have joined the new Coldeportes squad, Rafa Valls has signed with Vacansoleil, Italian Fabio Felline has moved to Androni Giocattoli, and Carlos Sastre has retired.
Most of the other non-Spanish riders on the team have also found other options, but Spaniards Juan José Cobo, David de la Fuente, David Blanco, Arkaitz Durán and David Gutiérrez are still in limbo. Vuelta champion Cobo has been told by Movistar boss Eusebio Unzué that he will endeavour to find the budget to sign him. But even if this deal does not come to fruition, Cobo is reported to have received offers from a number of other teams. Things look bleaker for his compatriots, though, as all the Spanish professional teams have filled their rosters for next season.