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De la Fuente among Geox-TMC riders looking for a team

Like most of the riders on the ill-fated Geox-TMC squad, David de la Fuente is desperately looking for a ride next season following the late-hour departure of the team’s title sponsor.

The team missed a deadline Tuesday that would have left it options to stay in the WorldTour if management could have come up with a new sponsorship package. Now the team is just hoping to stay in the second-level next season while the riders have been given the green light to try to find new contracts.

“It’s the worst news we could receive,” De la Fuente told the Diario Montañes. “I want to stay with this team, I’m happy here, but it makes me angry to think that we’re all going to have to leave. Time is passing by and every day it’s more complicated. There’s not much hope, but I’d like to stay.”

Italian shoemaker Geox left the team without a required bank deposit in mid-October and then announced it would be ending its team sponsorship.

Team management is scrambling to find new sponsors in time to save at least part of the team for next season, but the riders know that each day that passes means it will be that much more complicated.

De la Fuente is among the top riders on Geox-TMC left hanging. Others, such as Fabio Duarte, have already found rides, with the former U-23 rider signing with Colombia-Coldeportes.

Some, such as Denis Menchov and Vuelta a España winner Juanjo Cobo, will likely land contracts despite the late hour. Others, however, will likely be left without a team.

Most of the major teams already have their 2012 lineups wrapped up and there’s little money left on team budgets to sign new riders, even if they come cheap.

De la Fuente, who rejoined the Geox-TMC infrastructure this season after racing with Astana in 2010, said the team’s imminent demise comes as a shock.

“It’s almost like a lie. Just a few months ago we were the happiest ones in the peloton. I lived my happiest moments as a rider and now everything’s the contrary,” he said. “Now I don’t know what I’ll do. Cobo and Menchov can find teams, because they’re interesting riders, but even they’ll have it complicated. If those guys are finding it hard, imagine the rest of us. There’s less hope every day. It’s already November and it’s getting very late.”

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