GEOX team boss Gianetti remains hopeful on grand tour invitations

Perhaps Mauro Gianetti should paraphrase Mark Twain, who famously said, “the report of my death was an exaggeration.”

Perhaps Mauro Gianetti should paraphrase Mark Twain, who famously said, “the report of my death was an exaggeration.”

The Swiss team manager remains at the helm of Geox-TMC going into the 2011 season despite a winter of discontent filled with reports of a power struggle within the Italian-backed team.

Gianetti got the official backing of Geox sponsors late last week after an apparent fight for control of the team in the back offices following the squad’s denial of a ProTeam license.

This week, Geox-TMC is holding its first training camp of the 2011 season along the Spanish Mediterranean coast near Tarragona, and Gianetti is hoping to turn the page.

“Yes, the team is here, nothing changes,” Gianetti told VeloNews. “There were many stories in the newspapers that were not true. I remain at the team and we are working on this project. There were too many rumors.”

Last week, Geox management released a statement published in La Gazzetta dello Sport that confirmed Gianetti will stay at the helm of the team. The Italian shoe company publicly affirmed its support of Gianetti and said the four-year sponsorship will remain in place.

The uncertainty of the team’s immediate future cast a pall over the otherwise high-profile entry of the Geox sponsorship, the first major Italian company to enter cycling as a new sponsor in several years.

Despite signing such riders as Denis Menchov and Carlos Sastre, Gianetti fell short in securing a ProTeam license that would have guaranteed the team’s presence in cycling’s most important races.

Gianetti remains optimistic, however, that the squad will be present in the season’s major grand tours, though he admits he will have to wait for invitations.

“It’s not our decision, we have to wait for the invitation,” Gianetti continued. “We know it won’t be easy, because there will be a lot of competition. We will remain concentrated on our project. We have two big riders who can win the big races. Between them, they have won the Giro, Tour and Vuelta. We have to wait for a communication from them.”

Menchov and Sastre are expected to attend the presentation of the 2011 Vuelta on Wednesday in Alicante and will remain with the team at the training camp through Sunday ahead of the season’s first races.

The team will make its debut in February in various races, sending squads to the GP Costa degli Etruschi in Italy, the Mallorca Challenge in Spain and the Tour of Qatar.

A team presentation that was scheduled for this week in Spain has been rescheduled for January 31 near the Geox headquarters in Montebelluna, Italy.

On Monday, Gianetti also announced that Xavier Florencio will be incorporated into the team.