Italian press reports footwear company's backing was based on team securing ProTeam status...

Carlos Satsre and Denis Menchov may be forced to look for new teams for 2011, with press reports in Italy suggesting that the Geox-TMC team the pair have joined for next season is at risk of losing its headline sponsor after failing to secure ProTeam status.

With the team, which is the successor to Footon-Servetto, instead given Professional Continental – or “second division” – status by world cycling’s governing body, the UCI, the outfit faces uncertainty over whether it will receive invitations to compete in the sport’s biggest races such as the Tour de France – won by Sastre in 2008 – and the Giro’d’Italia and Vuelta, both of which have been won by Menchov.

Treviso-based footwear company Geox, which had previously featured among Lampre’s roll of sponsors, its name appearing on the team’s jerseys, took the decision this summer to step up its involvement in the sport and become headline sponsor of a team, reaching agreement with Footon-Servetto’s team manager, the Italian, Mauro Gianetti.

This week, the Geox-TMC squad has been holding its first team meeting in Spain. But Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that since the agreement with Gianetti was based on the team securing ProTeam status, failure to do so means that the footwear company is reconsidering its position.

Should the company decide to walk away from the team, the consequent reduction in budget would obviously have severe implications for the team’s plans for 2011. Although the Gazzetta says that Sastre, at 36 years of age, might be prepared to adapt to the changed circumstances, it highlights that Menchov may have other ideas.

The former Rabobank rider, who was at the presentation of the 2011 Tour de France in Paris in October, has big ambitions for next summer’s edition of the race, particularly given the expected absence of Alberto Contador, and may therefore be tempted to make a last-minute change of team should Geox withdraw its backing.

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.