Spanish veteran David Blanco has branded the main backers of his Geox-TMC team as “lacking scruples and morals” following Italian shoemaker Geox’s recent and wholly unexpected announcement that it will be quitting the sport at the end of the season. The Italian company made its announcement more than a month on from Juan José Cobo’s victory for the team at September’s Vuelta a España, leaving riders with few alternative options of employment and team manager Mauro Gianetti with little time to locate a new backer.
Speaking to Spanish website El Pedal de Frodo, Blanco said that he was not surprised that Geox had decided to quit given his experiences of his team’s sponsor during the season. “From the beginning the people at Geox acted in a way that wasn’t very professional. What we have seen is their true face and it doesn’t seem to matter to them in the slightest that a whole lot of people are going to end up out of a job. If they wanted to leave then they should have said so after the Vuelta and gone out in gentlemanly fashion, but doing it when they did shows that they really are people lacking in scruples and morals”.
The 36-year-old Spanish rider said that he has confidence that Gianetti and team director Joxean ‘Matxin’ Fernández will find a new backer for 2012. “I’m pretty relaxed about it, I can’t do much to help resolve the situation and turning it all over in my head doesn’t really help at all. I’ve got confidence in Mauro and Matxin’s ability to turn this disaster around. I’m almost certain they will manage it,” he said.
Blanco then turned his ire onto the current state of Spanish cycling and the treatment of his training partner, Ezequiel Mosquera, who is facing a two-year ban after testing positive for a possible masking agent during his ride to second place in the 2010 Vuelta.
“I think that cycling started to die with the establishment of the ProTour and it dug itself into its own grace with Operation Puerto,” Blanco declared. “Not because of the scandal related to the doping, but because of how the issue was dealt with.”
Blanco continued: “What they’ve done with ‘Eze’ you can only describe in one way and that’s as indefensible… Nobody in their right mind can say the correct legal steps have been followed in a case that has now taken more than a year to be resolved. It’s the same tactic that was used with Operation Puerto, of saying that we aren’t doing anything because we know that by acting like that we’re doing a lot. The biggest crime that Eze has committed is doing what he did in the Vuelta and being called Ezequiel Mosquera and riding for a small team. I’ve got no doubt that if he was called something else and was riding in a different team we wouldn’t be talking about this issue now.”
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).