Vuelta a España winner, Juan José Cobo is looking for a new team as Geox has annulled its sponsorship with the Spanish cycling team. The Italian shoe manufacturer announced yesterday that it would end its commitment with Mauro Gianetti’s Pro Continental team.
“After a year of experience in professional cycling, the company considers its presence in this sport not strategic anymore,” read the press release.
Geox president, Mario Moretti Polegato agreed only last year to a reported five-year, €50m sponsorship. However, after Cobo’s Vuelta win on September 11, problems were reported. 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre had announced his retirement back in September.
Gianetti failed to secure WorldTour licence ahead of this season, despite promises to Geox of having a team in the top division. Gianetti managed a team in the first division for the previous six years, since 2005 with Saunier Duval, Fuji and Footon-Servetto. During the 2008 Tour de France, his Saunier Duval riders Riccardo Riccò and Leonardo Piepoli tested positive for CERA, third generation EPO.
UCI press spokesmen, Enrico Carpani told Cycling Weekly that the UCI omitted the team from a list of 32 first and second division teams published on October 1 because it lacked a financial guarantee. The UCI requires teams to place money in escrow to cover any potential problems for the coming season.
Gianetti “has 15 riders under contract,” said Carpani. “If he appeared with a new sponsor tomorrow, OK, but…”
Since October 1, Gianetti’s riders, including Cobo and Denis Menchov, have been free to look for a new team. It’s unlikely Gianetti has time to find a new sponsor before the UCI confirm in the coming month its 18 first division and its list of second division teams.
Gianetti was unavailable when Cycling Weekly called for comment.
Sky renews contracts with Stannard, Swift and Kennaugh
Sky announced yesterday that it renewed the contracts of Ian Stannard, Ben Swift and Peter Kennaugh.
“Having nurtured them on Great Britain’s Olympic Academy Programme, we knew these guys had bright futures ahead of them, and they have all fulfilled that promise, and more,” said team principal, David Brailsford in a press release. “We are delighted that they have chosen to stay with the team. I have no doubt at all that these riders will go from strength-to-strength.”
Swift won five sprints this year. Kennaugh and Stannard helped Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins podium at the Vuelta a España.
Sky and Possoni split
Sky’s Morris Possoni will join a new team for next year, and has been linked with team Astana.
The Italian joined Sky in its debut year, 2010 after racing for two years with Team Columbia-HTC and three years with Lampre.
In April, he was linked to banned trainer, Michele Ferrari when his home searched by Italy’s Anti-Narcotics Group (NAS). The NAS also searched the homes of several Katusha riders – Alexandr Kolobnev, Mikhail Ignatiev, Vladimir Gusev and Vladimir Karpets – Evgeni Petrov, Michele Scarponi and Leonardo Bertagnolli, Giovanni Visconti and Diego Caccia.
BMC renews Alessandro Ballan
BMC Racing will renew Alessandro Ballan’s contract for one year despite doping-related problems. He was linked to the Lampre/Mantova investigation, which caused BMC to suspend him on two occasions, last year and this year.
Ballan won the 2008 World Championships and the 2007 Tour of Flanders.
Mauro Santambrogio was also linked to the investigation and suspended by BMC Racing. He signed for the 2010 season with Ballan, but on a three-year contract that runs through 2012.