Mauro Gianetti, the manager of the Geox-TMC team, has bitterly criticised the way the UCI has awarded ProTeam places for 2011 after his team missed out on one of the 18 slots.
In the sporting criterion list issued by the UCI on November 2 and based on riders signed for 2011, the Geox-TMC was 17th and looked set to secure a place thanks to signing Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov as team leaders. However, the team missed out with Quick Step and Ag2r moving past them to secure the final places. The UCI has so far refused to reveal how teams are awarded ProTeam status.
Gianetti suggested the sporting criterion used by the UCI to decide the 18 ProTeams makes scoring points more important than ethics.
“I think this decision is bad news for cycling,” Gianetti told Cyclingnews.
“Carlos Sastre is the only Tour de France winner since 1996 not to be involved in a doping scandal and yet that’s been ignored and the only thing that matter seems to be the points riders have scored in the last two years.
“Riccardo Riccò caused huge damage by testing positive during the Tour de France. It cost me a major sponsor and stopped another sponsor coming into the sport. So how can the points he scored in 2010 after making a quick comeback, be more important that what Sastre or Denis Menchov has achieved?
“The UCI isn’t coherent. Its decision gives the message that the important thing isn’t ethics but points. That’s crazy. And they don’t seem worried about how those points are earned. They seem to accept points at any price.”
Gianetti has managed the relatively weak Footon-Servetto team this year but argues that the 2011 Geox-TMC line-up was strong enough to be a ProTeam.
“We’ve got a competitive team. We’ve got Sastre and Menchov as team leaders: Menchov won the Giro in 2009 and finished third in the Tour de France this year. We’ve got riders who are 100 percent dedicated to helping them win the big races and we’ve signed talented young riders like Fabio Duarte, who pulled on the UCI’s Under 23 rainbow jersey in 2008. They might not have many points but they’re talented and good at what they do. The UCI has ignored that.”
Geox-TMC will now be considered for Professional Continental status and could still secure an invitation to the Tour de France and other Grand Tours. Gianetti, however, is worried about the effect the UCI’s decision will have on the future of the Geox-TMC team.
“I don’t know how both sponsors will react to this decision. I think it’s terrible to treat new sponsors this way. Both companies have international markets and wanted to ride all the major races, around the world, to promote their brands.
“Now we’re going to have to hope we are invited to the major races. I hope we are, so that we can show what we can really do.”