In an eleventh hour attempt to save his Geox team, yet again, Josean Fernández Matxin travelled to three corners of the globe to secure funding from three unlikely sources – Iran, Libya and Venezuela.
On a tip from team manager Mauro Gianetti, Maxtin flew last Monday to Tehran, Iran, and met with representatives of the tourist board of that country. The proposal from the Iranians included a promotional campaign entitled “Get Happy about a Cycling Jihad with Ahmadinejad,” and a potential race around Persepolis.
Maxtin seemed a little skeptical about the opportunity, as the Iranian ministry was insistent on having an entourage of 25-30 Iranian security professionals accompany them to races in the US, England, and Germany for undisclosed purposes. The tourist board also requested technical specifications of all the team luggage in order to have them “properly outfitted.”
When asked about his his trepidation regarding the Iranian opportunity, Maxtin was honest, “The stumbling block isn’t any of the technical requests, it’s the fact that they are requesting two of the team to be Iranian. We’re not sure if they are ready to race at the WorldTour level.”
The duo of Maxtin and Gianetti then traveled to the war-torn country of Libya, where the recent removal of the incumbent regime has presented a challenge for a currently non-existent tourist industry. The team formerly known as Geox could be the opportunity the country needs to bolster its public perception and sagging economy. The diffculty for the Libyans, however, is trying to provide the funds required by the UCI for the bank guarantee by November 20th, as its current government members do not have official signing authority for the myriad of bank accounts still under the various spellings of the name Moammar Gadhafi.
Lastly, Maxtin and Gianetti conducted negotiations this weekend with the tourist officials from the country of Venezuela. The duo were impressed with the reception at the airport, which included a fleet of bulletproof Lincoln Navigators, a police escort, and a accommodations at a secured government villa.
“This country takes its stability seriously. We’re impressed with the work that president Chavez has done for the people of Venezuela to make the country safer and durable goods more affordable,” declared Gianetti.
When told that an opposition candidate to Chavez in the upcoming election was fired upon at a softball game, Gianetti was confused, “Chavez assured us that it was just fireworks as a celebration of Venezuelan unity. You might want to check your facts.”
Cyclismas has been told that the Venezuelan offer revolves around the branding campaign, “Venezuela, Open to the World for Business.” Potential team names include The Red Bike Brigade, Chavez Bike Live, and Zuelan Live Unity.
Maxtin feels that this difficult decision, which must be made by Tuesday, November 15th, will cause him many sleepless nights, something that has been plaguing him since he decided to become involved with the first incarnation of his team in 1998.