A sponsorship agreement has been signed between Geox president Mario Moretti Polegato and Footon-Servetto general manager Mauro Gianetti. The Italian shoe manufacturer will take over as primary sponsor of Gianetti’s squad, while Fuji will continue as bike supplier. Former Lampre partner Caffita is also touted to be a potential sub-sponsor.
“I was contacted in June asked to present a plan,” Gianetti told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I didn’t know the company directors personally but I spoke with the president and he told me of his idea of entering cycling because it’s a sport of great tradition, with a huge following and for people of all ages.”
The exact details of Geox’s sponsorship agreement are not certain, but the budget is believed to be around €6 million per year and the initial commitment is expected to last at least two seasons. The existing structure and team headquarters in Spain will be maintained but the squad will race under an Italian licence in 2011. Former Saeco and Barloworld manager Claudio Corti will be team manager, joining sporting directors Stefano Zanini, Daniele Nardello and Joxean Fernández Matxin.
La Gazzetta reports that Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini) is Geox’s primary transfer target. As Footon-Servetto currently lie outside the top 17 teams in the UCI rankings and are thus not guaranteed a place in next year’s grand tours, Geox is keen to sign one of the stars of the Italian peloton in order to ensure its presence at the Giro d’Italia.
Cunego is thought to fit the bill as he comes from the same Veneto region as the company and he used to have a personal deal with Diadora sports equipment, which is now owned by Geox. The presence of his former manager Claudio Corti would be another motivation for Cunego to join the team. His Lampre-Farnese Vini squad has already signed Michele Scarponi to lead its Giro d’Italia challenge next season.
Radioshack duo Chris Horner and Janez Brajkovic, as well as Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas-Doimo) are all thought to be among the Geox's other potential transfer targets, according to La Gazzetta. Geox will also sponsor a women’s team in 2011, based on the existing Safi-Pasta Zara structure.