Must have been a slow news day at Spanish newspaper El Periodico. Perhaps just working off a kooky idea, journalist Sergi López-Egea floated the possibility that the not-quite-nearly-dead GEOX squad would merge with a US based Pro Continental team.
That was a fun story and we all got a few laughs and Twisted SPoke continues to be impressed with the never say die attitude of Mauro Gianetti and his DS Joxean Fernández Matxin. These two guys have even tried to sell the Venezuelan tourism board on sponsoring a team. Crazy stuff.
Given the lengths that Gianetti and Matxin have gone, perhaps it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they have talked to the two American Pro Conti teams and double perhaps maybe even got into details and scenarios.
Matxin however –who seems to be the more open and honest of the dynamic duo — did little to encourage the success of this new venture. “There are conversations with various teams, but there is nothing,” said Matxin.
You could actually argue that the American “dream” is more likely than the Venezuelan one. The reasoning went that if the merger went through that Vuelta winner Juan Jose Cobo would be part of the deal and immediately all but guarantee the team a ride as a wildcard in the next Vuelta.
That part of the deal makes sense but let’s look at the two possibilities. There are just two Pro Conti teams in this fantasy: United Healthcare and Team Type 1. Of the two, we rule out UHC and would be absolutely shocked if they merged with Geox.
We spent five days with UHC team manager Mike Tamayo during the Tour of California. In several conservations he told us that they are building the team slowly and steadily. While they’re an aggressive operation and racing more and more in Europe, team chemistry is extremely important. There’s also a very close family atmosphere to the squad. All this makes a last minute shotgun wedding with a Spanish team like Geox seem inconceivable.
Now, what gets interesting is when you look option number two: Team Type 1. Team owner Phil Southerland is hyper ambitious and has huge goals for his team. He pitched Giro impresario Angelo Zomegnan hard for a Giro wild card for last season. He was close and Angelo loved the added drama of the diabetes mission. But Zomegnan created the most brutal Giro in history and lost his job in the process. That put Team Type 1 back to square 1.
They want to ride a grand tour bad and they don’t care which one is it: Italy, France or Spain. The team chemistry issue isn’t such a deal breaker for them. The acquisition of Cobo cuts out a lot of begging and cajoling and takes a lot of pressure off for early season results.
There’s also a certain harmonic convergence to this union. Southerland’s biography is entitled Not Dead Yet and there’s no question that Gianetti has a Not-Dead-Yet attitude.
On paper, as dream only, this actually seems like a good deal for Team Type 1. The only issue we see is that Sutherland wouldn’t want any part of Gianetti and that’s where things fall apart. The Geox people hated Gianetti — they felt he mis-lead them about their Tour de France chances and weren’t that impressed with the team he put together.
So that’s the final scenario: Team-Type 1 Geox with Gianetti ousted. But Mauro has worked too hard to save his squad to hand over the keys. In short, neither of these two options is viable and Geox finally dies.