In a gala presentation hosted by Geox president Mario Moretti Polegato at the Gran Teatro Geox in Padua, Italy, the 2011 Geox-TMC squad was presented to the public and media on Saturday.
After a rocky start with no ProTeam status and no invite to the 2011 Tour de France, the Professional Continental Geox-TMC is looking forward to the Italian and Spanish Grand Tours in 2011. Although the team has not been officially invited to Italy's Grand Tour, team riders and management are optimistic that with the dynamic duo of Denis Menchov, winner of the Centenary Giro in 2009 plus the 2005 and 2007 Vuelta a España, and Carlos Sastre, winner of the 2008 Tour de France, will be at the Giro's start in Torino on May 7.
Geox is one of the top footwear companies worldwide. Based in Montebelluna, Italy, the company makes over 20 million pairs of shoes annually with their patented breathing technology. Already present in sport sponsorships with special footwear for the Red Bull F1 team of world champion Sebastian Vettel, Geox-TMC has 23 riders captained by Russia's Denis Menchov and Spain's Carlos Sastre.
"Menchov and Sastre are great team captains and great role models for our young riders," team manager Mauro Gianetti told Cyclingnews. "The average age of our team's riders is 26 years old and we have some great young talents, like the Slovenian rider Marco Kump, winner of the U23 Tour of Flanders in 2010, the Russian rider Dimitri Kozontchuk, winner of the U23 Roubaix in 2005, the Colombian Fabio Duarte, U23 World Champion in 2008, the dynamic Spanish rider, Rafael Valls and Fabio Felline, who won already last season as a neo-pro."
A cheerful, relaxed Carlos Sastre, surrounded by his young teammates, told Cyclingnews, "I am feeling at home on the team and have had good training, even if it has been cold in Avila", where the 35-year-old former Tour de France champion lives. Sastre will begin his 2011 season at the Vuelta a Murcia, which runs March 2-6.
Fresh from a podium place in the Trofeo Deià, the fourth race in the Challenge Mallorca, Sastre's Geox TMC teammate Juan Jose Cobo told Cyclingnews, "I am really motivated this season to be back with this team." After a poor season with Caisse d'Epargne in 2010, Cobo has returned to his roots and rejoined the Geox squad directed by Joxean Fernández Matxin. "I had my best [career] moments with Matxin and I have had a good winter training. So far the season has started off well for me, so I am looking for a win soon this season."
Italian Geox-TMC rider Daniele Colli was diagnosed with a benign tumor on his right knee last December and was on hand at the Geox-TMC presentation two months after the operation to remove his tumor. "I am feeling a lot better and am able to do some easy riding now, but it will take me a while to come back to full strength", said Colli. "It has not been easy for me, physically or mentally, but Mauro Gianetti and the team have been really supportive so I am hoping to come back strong in the second half of the season."
Thirteen of the 23 riders comprising the 2011 roster participated in the presentation and one by one the riders made their way to the stage: Matthias Brandle, Giampaolo Cheula, Juan Jose Cobo, Daniele Colli, David De la Fuente, Fabio Duarte, Arkaitz Duran, Fabio Felline, Noe Gianetti, Rafael Walls and Marcel Wyss.
For the grand finale, a video of their finest victories illustrated the introductions of Geox-TMC's star riders: Denis Menchov and Carlos Sastre.
Although they could not be present, Tomas Alberio, Mauricio Ardila Cano, David Blanco, Marco Corti, Xavier Florencio, David Gutierrez, Dmitry Kozontchuk, Marco Kump, Matteo Pelucchi and Daniele Ratto were introduced as part of the team via video. These riders, along with team manager Daniele Nardello, are all currently in the Middle East where they just concluded the Tour of Qatar and currently await the start of the Tour of Oman on February 15.
Other VIPs on hand to present the team included President of the Italian Cycling Federation Renato Di Rocco, President of the UCI World Tour Cycling Council Vittorio Adorni plus Amedeo Colombo and Gianni Bugno representing the ACCPI.
Geox-TMC 2011 roster:
Tomas Alberio (Ita)
Mauricio Ardila Cano (Col)
David Blanco (Spa)
Matthias Brandle (Aut)
Giampaolo Cheula (Ita)
Juan Jose Cobo (Spa)
Daniele Colli (Ita)
Marco Corti (Ita)
David De la Fuente (Spa)
Fabio Duarte (Col)
Arkaitz Duran (Spa)
Fabio Felline (Ita)
Xavier Florencio (Spa)
Noe Gianetti (Swi)
David Gutierrez Gutierrez (Spa)
Dmitry Kozontchuk (Rus)
Marco Kump (Slo)
Denis Menchov (Rus)
Matteo Pelucchi (Ita)
Daniele Ratto (Ita)
Carlos Sastre (Spa)
Rafael Valls (Spa)
Marcel Wyss (Swi)