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Gianetti looking for classics leader for Geox

Mauro Gianetti has announced that the new Geox team is looking for riders to bolster the team’s classics squad. After signing Denis Menchov and Carlos Sastre to lead his squad’s assault on the major tours, the Swiss team manager is keen to build a team that will be competitive throughout the season and on all terrains.

“We are looking for riders for the classics,” Gianetti told Basque newspaper Diario Vasco. “If we get them, we’ll have a small specific group for those races.”

Geox takes over sponsorship of the Footon-Servetto team in 2011 and Gianetti revealed further details of how the team will be revamped in its new guise. “It’s a long-term project for five or six years, with a high-level team that will have a budget of around ten million euro per season and will feature 28 riders,” Gianetti said.

“So far we have signed thirteen riders and have been talking with another eight, so we have still have room to complete the team,” Gianetti continued.

Gianetti was full of praise for the two grand tour leaders that he has signed. “Between them they have accumulated ten podium placings in the three big tours in the last ten years,” he said. “And more importantly, they are two riders with a good image.” Both Sastre and Menchov are favourites for the Vuelta that began on Saturday.

The Geox manager was rather more reticent when asked if he had tried to sign Riccardo Riccò. Gianetti was Riccò’s manager at Saunier Duval when he was excluded from the 2008 Tour de France after a positive test for CERA.

“Don’t ask me about Riccò,” he said. “I believe that in cycling now it’s not just wins that count, but also the image. I've taken Ricco to court in Italy and I hope to win. I think that's a suffiencet answer to your question."

Riding in the major races will be essential for the Geox team in 2011 and Gianetti is convinced that he has a good relationship with Tour de France organisers ASO, despite of the difficulties his Saunier Duval team caused in 2008. “My relationship with ASO is good,” he insisted. “We had specific circumstances in which we each defended our positions, but we meet with one another regularly.”

While Footon-Servetto’s current roster has something of a Spanish emphasis, Gianetti suggested that Team Geox will be more international. “Some Spanish riders, like Rafael Valls and Arkaitz Duran, will still be with us and they will not be alone, we have talked with several others,” he explained. “But we must bear in mind that we’re talking about an international team, where there will be riders from various countries.”

Footon-Servetto’s current headquarters is in Camargo in Cantabria and that situation is unlikely to change in spite of the arrival of an Italian-based sponsor. “I can say with almost one hundred percent certainty that we will be based in Spain,” said Gianetti.

Former Saeco manager Claudio Corti has been strongly linked with a role at the team. Gianetti confirmed that while he is in talks with Corti, he will not be among the sporting directors at the revamped set-up. Stefano Zanini, Daniele Nardello, Josean Matxin and Sabino Angoitia have already been named as the team’s sporting directors.

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Barry Ryan

Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.