ProTeam snub shouldnâ€™t thwart grand tour ambitions, says manager
Denis Menchov was “annoyed and disappointed” about his new Geox-TMC team’s exclusion from the UCI’s top tier of ProTeams earlier this week – but has no regrets about signing with Mauro Gianetti’s squad, says Menchov’s manager.
Speaking to Cyclingnews on Saturday, Raimondo Scimone said that Menchov still hoped to compete in both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in 2011.
The UCI president Pat McQuaid insisted earlier this week that all 18 ProTeams will compete in the three major tours, leaving a maximum of four starting places for the organizers to award at their own discretion. Giro boss Angelo Zomegnan has already hinted that he may push for more freedom in granting invitations.
Menchov, who will turn 33 in January, was the last man to crack the top five of both Giro and Tour in the same season. In 2008, he finished fifth overall in the Giro before taking third place at the Tour.
“The lack of ProTeam licence for Geox shouldn’t ruin Denis’s season,” Scimone said. “I think we’ll more or less see Geox have a season like BMC’s or Cervélo’s in 2010 [when they rode five out of six major tours between them – Ed.]. He could miss out on the odd warm-up race but, logically, he should be OK.
“We have no regrets about joining Geox,” Scimone continued. “In fact, we have total confidence in their project. Every team has a bedding-in period. BMC and Vacansoleil got their ProTeam licence in their second or third year…. That said, it’s disappointing for two main reasons: one, because a new and very important investor in the sport has been snubbed and, two, because Denis thought that his signing and Carlos Sastre’s had helped to bring the roster up to a level where their ProTeam status wouldn’t be in doubt.”
In the sporting criterion list issued by the UCI on November 2 and based on riders signed for 2011, Geox-TMC was ranked 17th and looked poised to secure one of 18 available ProTeam licences. Those hopes were dashed when the UCI announced this week that Quick Step and Ag2r had leapfrogged Gianetti’s team to take the final two berths.
The UCI refused to specify according to which of their financial, sporting, administrative or ethical criteria Geox-TMC had been excluded. Gianetti branded the decision “crazy”.
While less scathing than Gianetti, Scimone admitted that the lack of clarity over the assignment of licences was frustrating.
“If the rules were clear and communicated to everyone involved it would be better, but for years now we’ve been working in a sport where there are no certainties,” conceded the Italian, whose other clients include Michele Scarponi. “We’re like artists who have to ad lib and adapt constantly to not being able to plan what we or our clients are doing. Some strange stuff goes on in cycling – like the fact that the UCI and the race organizers sit around a negotiating table without even consulting the teams, and certainly without talking to riders and their representatives. It’s a really unique sport in that respect. It’s very hard for people on the outside to comprehend.
“Fortunately, we’d already discussed this eventuality with Gianetti back in August, so we were prepared,” Scimone said finally. “Now Denis and the rest of the team will just have to sweat a bit more to earn invitations. It won’t change too much.”