Fuji Bicycles has announced that it will be bike sponsor to the Geox-TMC in 2011 and beyond, continuing its long association with the UCI ProTour team, previously based in Spain but now relocating to Italy, which is the successor to Footon-Servetto and, previously, Fuji-Servetto.
The deal also extends the brand’s long-term relationship with the team’s general manager, Mauro Gianetti, whose team will next year be sponsored by Italian footwear manufacturer Geox and TMC, a firm that makes electrical transformers.
After a 2010 that was perhaps most noticeable for its much-derided kit, Gianetti’s squad has big ambitions for next season, having signed up the 2008 Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre from Cervelo TestTeam as well as former Vuelta and Giro d’Italia winner Denis Menchov from Rabobank.
It has also been revealed that Geox will field a women’s team in 2011, again riding on Fuji bikes, and that it will also have a Belgian-American amateur squad acting as a satellite to the men’s pro team.
Despite its Japanese name and heritage, Fuji is nowadays owned by Philadelphia-based Advanced Sports International whose president, Pat Cunnane, said: "We have worked with Mauro Gianetti for several years now as sponsors of the Fuji-Servetto and Footon-Servetto teams and we are very pleased to partner with him again for 2011 and beyond."
"The power of racing in the Pro Tour has clearly been a major benefit to our brands (Fuji and Oval Concepts), as well as to our suppliers' brands," he continued. "We've shown our products can survive the rigors and daily punishment of the Tour de France, the cobbles of the Tour of Flanders and other major races under some of the best riders in the world. It is because of this that our brands have gained immense credibility."
Both the Geox-TMC pro squad and the amateur team will be equipped with Fuji's new ultralight road bike, the innovative Altamira. Meanwhile, the elite women's team, previously the Italy-based Safi-Pasta Zara, will use Fuji's new women's-specific carbon road model, the Supreme. For time trialling, all three squads will use Fuji's D-6 TT bike.
Gianetti said: "The debut of the Geox brand in cycling is a project that wants to create more than just a cycling team. The objectives are not just to achieve important sporting results, the promotion of the Geox brand at an international level, the discovery and development of young talent but also the application of the patented technology of Geox for breathability.
He continued: “We are confident that this continuing partnership with the Fuji Bicycle brand, already our great sponsor for two years, will enable us to reach our goals for the team."
Besides Sastre and Menchov, other riders who will feature for Geox-TMC in 2011 include Giampaolo Cheula, Rafael Valls, Arkaitz Duran, Noe Gianetti, Fabio Felline, Matthias Brandle and Marco Corti from Footon-Servetto, as well as Spanish climber David De la Fuente, who joins from Astana, Fabio Duarte, Marko Kump, Matteo Pelucchi and Marcel Wyss.
The women's team includes American Mara Abbott, winner of the 2010 Giro d'Italia Femminile and two former world junior champions, Russia’s Olga Zabelinskaya and Italy’s Eleonora Patuzzo.
There’s no word yet on whether there will be a major overhaul of the flesh-coloured kit Footon-Servetto sported in 2010, but with new sponsors, and moreover one of them operating in the Italian fashion industry, it’s likely to be consigned to the dustbin, no doubt to be trotted out in a few year’s time when some other hapless team makes a similar sartorial faux-pas.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.