We’d like to see Mauro Gianetti’s phone bill for calls to South America in November. Gianetti, the hardest working man in cycling, has been trying to convince the Venezuelan Tourism Board that it’s not only the “Country of Dreams” but his next team sponsor.
You’ve got to respect a man with dreams that big. He may not run the cleanest cycling team but there’s no doubting his ability to hustle. The clock however has ticked past time and people are turning off the lights, water and electricity.
So far, he’s taken a few meetings in Venezuela, significantly increased his frequent flyer miles and quadrupled his cell phone bill. No deal yet and the UCI deadline has passed but apparently the nice folks from headquarters in Switzerland are giving him an extra week.
UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani said he couldn’t comment on the matter. The governing body of the sport is no doubt too busy buying up more internet domain names to foil the plans of the Rothschild Group to form a breakaway league.
At this late hour, it’s not hard to picture the awkward scenario for Gianetti: “Hi, yeah, it’s Mauro again, does president Chavez have a few minutes? No? Okay, I already left a few messages about funding my cycling team. I really need to talk to him.”
Yes, Gianetti and his DS Josean Matxin Fernandez and their star rider Vuelta winner Juan Jose Cobo are still slowly, inexorably dying. The Venezuela sponsor idea always had a certain comical and far-fetched quality. Like Gianetti smoked some weed, watched a Cheech & CHong movie, and decided to fly down to Caracas like some kind of lycra Che Guevara, spreading the bike racing revolution.
So far, Hugo Chavez hasn’t gotten out his pen and signed that deal. Note to Gianetti: pitch Chavez on how your riders are gonna to attack the imperialistic gringo teams from North America. The Venezuelan leader himself rides an Atomic bike that an Iranian company builds in his country.
There’s only one week to find a sponsor and the UCI is about to pull the plug. Certainly not enough time to pitch a new company and begin those complicated negotiations. That leaves only one other option: the “mystery” company that Gianetti hinted not long ago. This sounds like a fabrication to keep the hopes up and flush another sponsor out of the bush. We suspect there is no other company — certainly not one that can carry the primary financial load.
We’re going to miss the crazy entrepreneurial spirit of Mr. Gianetti. If former HTC-Highroad boss Bob Stapleton had half Mauro’s hustle, the top men’s team in professional road racing wouldn’t be history.