There was big news Wednesday on the sponsorship front, with Italian shoemaker Geox confirming its commitment to back the Footon-Servetto team in 2011 and French sponsor Bouygues Telecom continuing its backing for at least one more season.
Geox was a co-sponsor with Lampre this season, but has confirmed a deal to back the Spanish-based Footon-Servetto squad with a budget reportedly as high as 50 million Euros over five years.
Geox owner Mario Moretti Polegato confirmed the news in a press release issued Wednesday. The firm will come on as new title sponsor for the team managed by Mauro Gianetti and sport director Joxean Matxin Fernández.
Former Giro d’Italia champ Damiano Cunego has been linked to the deal as well as former sport director Claudio Corti.
The deal is a coup for the Footon-Servetto team, which rode the 2010 season with a reduced budget compromised mostly of young, untested pros. The team has managed to survive the damaging doping scandals of the 2008 Tour de France that saw Riccardo Riccò and Leonardo Piepoli both test positive for CERA-EPO.
Those doping scandals prompted title sponsor Saunier Duval to leave the team and the squad morphed into Scott-American Beef and then Fuji-Servetto to make it through the remainder of the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Bouygues goes another year
In other team news, French telecom giant Bouygues Telecom has decided to extend its sponsorship backing through the 2011 season if another title sponsor is not found.
Bouygues has backed the team since 2005 and hinted it would leave the sport at the end of the 2010 season. A strong Tour de France, with stage victories by Thomas Voeckler and Perrick Fedrigo as well as the best climber’s jersey with Anthony Charteau, might have helped the company to stick around for at least another year.