Grupo Deportivo Bike Like, the management company which operated the Pro Continental Geox-TMC team, announced today that a Swiss court has ruled in their favour regarding unpaid sponsorship money which precipitated the team's demise at the end of the 2011 season.
The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, the country's highest judicial body, ordered that TMC Italia SpA pay €6.3 million to Bike Like, upholding a previous verdict of the Court of Arbitration of Lugano, issued July 25, 2011.
The Spanish-based Geox-TMC team, despite having just won their country's Grand Tour with Juan José Cobo, crumbled in the latter part of 2011 when Geox suddenly withdrew sponsorship, leading to the team's demise and the riders scrambling for contracts elsewhere. Bike Like claimed that TMC Italia SpA had signed a sponsoring agreement with Geox-TMC for three seasons but never paid, prompting Geox to part ways with the team.
The squad's general manager Mauro Gianetti and team manager Joxean Fernandez Matxin tried to secure sponsorship elsewhere, including the Venezuelan tourism programme, but failed to find a backer prior to the November 20, 2011 deadline to submit paperwork to the UCI for team registration.
"TMC Italia SpA, whose name went around the whole world written all over the jersey of Juan José Cobo, winner of 2011 Vuelta a España, took advantage of the driving force of the prestigious trademark Geox and its wide distribution network," said Bike Like. "Despite this, it hasn’t deposited a single euro.
"This unscrupulous behaviour, clearly pointed out in the arbitration award, provoked Geox to pull out of cycling and the ceasing of the cycling team for the present season. Now, Grupo Deportivo Bike Live is going to collect from TMC Italia SpA the amount set by the court, and may take further actions related to the damages caused by its actions."