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Carlos Sastre has admitted he was surprised to discover that his Geox-TMC team had failed to secure a ProTeam licence for 2011 when the UCI announced the full 18 teams on Monday.
The 2008 Tour de France winner and 2009 Giro d’Italia winner Denis Menchov agreed to join the team after manager Mauro Gianetti secured Italian shoe company Geox as main sponsor. The team was ranked 17th in the UCI sporting criterion but was overlooked, with Ag2r, Euskaltel-Euskadi and Quick Step securing the final places.
"I do not really expect it and the truth is that decision has surprised me,” Sastre said in a statement.
"I can’t judge the criteria used by the UCI to grant licences, because nobody knows the details and on what basis the selection system is built. But it's a disappointment in any case, because I think more than ever cycling needs new projects, such as Geox-TMC, which combines experience and youth and is supported by a major company, which has decided to back our sport. Not just with the professional team but also with a women’s team and by organizing activities for children, in an attempt to bring back people who have become disillusioned with cycling.”
The lack of a ProTeam licence means the Geox-TMC team will have to fight for invitations to major races including the Tour de France. Sastre had hoped to ride all three grand tours in 2011 but remains confident about the team’s set-up.
“I am confident the experience Denis Menchov and I bring as riders, in the youth and the motivation of the staff, and in the professionalism of Gianetti and Matxin as manager and directeur sportif,” he said.