Geox-TMC officials vow to race in all three grand tours next season despite being denied one of 18 ProTour licenses. Despite an impressive lineup that includes Giro-Vuelta winner Denis Menchov and 2008 Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre, the Spanish team did not receive a ProTour license in the final list released by the UCI on Monday.
The Spanish team will have to rely on the goodwill of the major stage races to get bids to get into the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España as the team had planned on for its inaugural season under new sponsorship with Italian shoemaker Geox.
“Despite the decision by the UCI, we are confident that we can race in all three grand tours as invitees,” sport director Joxean Fernández Matxin told Marca. “We wanted to and we want to race the biggest races of the season. Sastre, for example, had planned on racing all three grand tours and Menchov, two of them. Between Sastre, Menchov, David Blanco, Cobo, de la Fuente and Durán, among others, we can present a very competitive team in whatever race, including the Tour.”
Matxin and team manager Mauro Gianetti expressed dismay at the UCI’s decision. With only one French team among the 18-team ProTour allotment (Ag2r), the Tour organization will be under pressure to invite several national teams to round out the peloton, making things even more complicated for team like Geox-TMC hoping to earn a spot in the Tour.
“I don’t think they (UCI) even know how they made the selection,” Matxin continued. “It’s difficult to understand what happened when it’s clear that the team met all economic, ethic and sporting requirements.”
The team is set to get together next week for the first time in a training camp in northern Spain and will have to make adjustments to its calendar. Matxin said team sponsors and key riders have expressed their support for the squad despite the setback.
“We’ll make a plan as best as we can,” Matxin said. “It seems like a joke, with the squad we have, that we find ourselves in this situation.”
Sastre, meanwhile, also expressed his surprise and disappointment that the team did not receive one of the elusive ProTour licenses.
“It’s disappointing, because now more than ever, cycling needs new projects like that of Geox-TMC,” Sastre said Wednesday. “I really didn’t expect this and the truth is that the decision was a surprise to me.”