Mauro Gianetti has tried to allay any fears about the future of the Team Geox squad by confirming the dates of the team's first training camp of 2011.
The riders, including team leaders Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov, will gather for a week of training in Tarragona, Spain between January 8-15. The riders are expected to collect their new bikes and see their new jerseys for the first time.
The team was due to make its official debut at the Tour of San Luis in Argentina but will now make a more low-profile debut at the GP degli Etruschi race in Italy. The team has not been invited to the Tour Down Under.
Gianetti has been under pressure to surrender control of the team after failing to secure a ProTeam licence for 2011 but he is determined to hold on to the team he built around the Footon-Servetto squad of 2010.
Geox has been granted a Professional Continental licence for 2011 but this does not guarantee an invitation to the Tour de France and other major races despite the team having Sastre and Menchov in the squad.
Geox provided a reported 2.5 million Euro to be the team's main sponsor but the Italian shoe manufacturer hoped to enter the sport at the highest level. A lack of funding meant the team was unable to secure other big name riders for 2011 and so missed out on ProTeam status.
According to recent reports in Gazzetta dello Sport, Geox is trying to wrestle control of the team from Gianetti and recently appointed former Mapei manager Alvaro Crespi as a consultant. However the team is registered with Gianetti and he makes it clear the sponsors were aware of the risks of not securing a ProTeam licence.
Gianetti and sport director Joxean Matxin feel that the training camp is an opportunity to continue building camaraderie and bolster the relationships and bonds formed at the team’s first training camp in December.
“We have learned that good atmosphere and attitude is imperative to a successful team,” explained Gianetti in the press release.
“The riders of the UCI Professional Team have already shown that they are committed to making this team work and that they work well together."
The press release pointed out that 'the UCI gave the team a Professional Continental licence for 2011 after controlling the sponsor contracts and solidity of the balance sheet."
"The team was classified 17th and while it's understandable that the sponsors are disappointed about not being part of the ProTeam, they knew the ProTeam licence was not guaranteed considering the new points system created by the UCI."