Ferretti's Sony link phoneyClose
The Sony Ericsson team was set to be one of the pro peloton's richest and star-studded teams, boastiPIC BY TDWSPORT.COM It is being reported this morning that Giancarlo Ferretti's plans for a new team sponsored by electronics giant Sony Ericsson have sensationally fallen through. Rumours that Ferretti's project was in jeopardy had intensified in recent days, building to a crescendo before Thursday's Giro del Piemonte. This morning, as the Italian press reported that the team was doomed never to see the light of day, riders who had committed to Ferretti admitted that they were now seeking alternative employment. Stuart O'Grady, who had agreed to join Sony Ericsson from Cofidis, said that he was "obviously very disappointed" but that he "didn't blame Ferretti". O'Grady appeared confident that both he and compatriot Matt White, another Ferretti capture, would duly receive offers from other teams. The future of another Aussie, Chris Sutton, who was due to make his pro debut in Ferretti's ranks in 2006, is more uncertain. Gilberto Simoni's excellent current form will no doubt aid him in his search for a new home. Although not a ProTour team, Naturino-Sapore di Mare apparently lead the race for Simoni's signature. Already dubious about Ferretti's prospects, Simoni apparently spoke to Naturino-Sapore di Mare rider Filippo Simeoni about the possibility of the pair riding together in 2006 at the Giro dell'Emilia last Saturday. Salvatore Commesso, Cristian Moreni and particularly former Ferretti protg Vincenzo Nibali will also be hotly pursued. The same, of course, may not apply to some of the lesser-known riders left in the wake of Ferretti's white elephant, not to mention the numerous masseurs, mechanics and support staff who were due to link up with the veteran Italian boss. Ferretti himself could now see his credibility irreparably damaged. O'Grady may have been sympathetic this morning, but the Italian press is already accusing the former Fassa Bortolo boss of naivety unworthy of a man with over a quarter of century's experience of managing teams. After a long interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport last week in which Ferretti spoke at length about Sony Ericsson and their plans for the team, the same paper was alarmed to receive a call from Sony's Italian headquarters asking for Ferretti's contact details. The company's Italian arm apparently knew little or nothing of Ferretti's team, let alone the prospect of their brand name appearing on its jersey. This morning La Gazzetta asked more searching questions: "Was Ferretti very careless? Or did he place his blind faith in someone who had guaranteed him their support." The identity of who that "someone" might be has yet to be revealed, although it is believed that individuals purportedly negotiating with Sony Ericsson on Ferretti's behalf had given him their assurances. What those assurances were based on remains a mystery. On Friday, Ferretti was to be found at Sony Ericsson HQ in Stockholm, where he was no doubt looking for some answers of his own. Meanwhile, riders, press and fans spread across Europe were waiting to be enlightened. Ferretti is due to release an official statement at midday on Friday.