Juanjo Cobo ─ a winner of the Tour of the Basque Country in 2006 ─ hopes to get back in the fast lane with a return to his former team, now called Geox-TMC.
Cobo, 29, suffered through an injury-plagued 2010 season and didn’t win a race in his high-profile, one-season move to Caisse d’Epargne. Cobo rejoins the team managed by Mauro Gianetti, where he turned pro in 2004. Also staying with the team next year is David Gutierrez, who rode for Footon-Servetto-Fuji and stays with the team as it gains the support of major sponsors Geox and TMC.
“All of us know the sporting quality Cobo has. He has already shown he can ride within the best, as well in the mountains as in the time trials, and will be a great helper for the team leaders,” Gianetti said in a team release. “He made his best performances with us and, after a year full of troubles, we’re confident he can get back to his level. David Gutiérrez also earned continuity with the team as he showed professional, serious attitude all over the season; that’s why he deserves this opportunity.”
Both riders hail from Spain’s Cantabria region, where the team has strong ties. Sport director Joxean Matxin also comes from the area and the squad is always looking to back local riders, though efforts to sign Óscar Freire, another Cantabrian, have always fallen short.
Cobo said he hopes the move back to Gianetti will help him rediscover his passion for cycling.
“It’s been a very tough season for me from the psychological point of view, and I’m a rider who needs to feel stable to give my very best,” Cobo said. “I return alongside the directors who brought me to my top level, we both know the good and bad points of each other and I’m sure this will help to bring me back to the performances of those three years before that last bad season.”
Cobo will be riding for his eighth season as a pro, all of those in with Saunier Duval-Prodir and Fuji-Servetto, with the exception of his one-year move to Caisse d’Epargne.
Cobo is a solid climber who can stay away in breakaways. His biggest year was two stages and the overall at the 2006 Tour of the Basque Country. He won a mountain stage in the 2009 Vuelta a Espana and was awarded victory in stage 10 to Hautacam during the 2008 Tour de France when then-teammate Leonardo Piepoli tested positive for CERA and was later stripped of the stage win.