UCI says it’s too soon to say Rasmussen’s Christina Watches team has Continental licence
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

UCI says it’s too soon to say Rasmussen’s Christina Watches team has Continental licence

by Shane Stokes at 6:15 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Governing body raises questions about registration process of Danish squad

Michael RasmussenAlthough chief sponsor Christina Hembo stated today that the Christina Watches team had secured a continental licence for 2011, the UCI has subsequently told VeloNation that it needs to assess the project before giving a green light to that status. It said that it must review the application to ensure that no rules have been broken by the acquisition and modification of one squad by another.

When first contacted by VeloNation earlier today, the governing body expressed surprise that Michael Rasmussen’s squad had received a licence. Spokesman Enrico Carpani stated that applications for Continental teams first go to the national federations for assessment, then are forwarded to the UCI for the final decision. He insisted that the UCI had not received documents relating to either the Christina Watches squad nor any team with Rasmussen’s name listed on it.

Hembo’s husband Claus subsequently explained the situation to VeloNation, saying that the team’s application was under the name of Team Bianchi – M1 rather than Christina Watches, and that it had just been confirmed by the governing body as having been awarded a licence. Team Bianchi – M1 is indeed now listed as registered on the UCI website.

So why the difference in names? “When we bought the team, it had already applied for registration with the UCI under a different name,” Hembo explained, referring to the purchase of the Stenca-Bianchi-M1 squad in early December.

“After we bought it, there is a period of time when we cannot change anything, namely the period when they have to consider the application. As a result we could not modify the team until today….now we can write to the UCI with the changes.

“As a result of this, we are not registered as Christina Watches. When we bought this team, they had sent in everything…[lists of] riders, sponsors and all that, and we could not interfere with that process. Now it has been completed, we can change the name and add extra riders…we have 13 riders under contract and plan to add more. That is what we are doing at the moment.”

Those thirteen riders include the nine Danes who were on the original submitted applications, namely Pelle Clapp, Mads Hardahl, Guytan Lilholt, Martin Lind, Jakob Madsen, Daniel Malmros, Jesper Odgaard Nielsen, Mads Steen and Daniel Vestergaard. The later additions are Rasmussen and Michael Reiher, as well as two others confirmed today: Kristian Sobota and Marc Hester.

The management structure will also change, with different individuals running the team than those who originally applied for the licence.

Hembo didn’t anticipate problems, but the UCI subsequently told VeloNation that it considered that there could be an issue. “It is too early to say that Rasmussen’s team has a Continental licence,” said Carpani.

“We have just spoken with the president of the Danish federation who is responsible for all the Danish Continental teams and he told our guys at the UCI that the Bianchi team is moving into a new team, founded by Christina Watches with Rasmussen amongst the riders.

“But the UCI has to be careful because the rules don’t allow one team to be bought and then another team to be created from scratch [using the licence]. For example, you can’t buy Rabobank and then create another team…you have to keep the structure of Rabobank.”

Hembo said that the majority of announced riders were previously due to race with Team Bianchi – M1. As a result, that core of the team remains the same. However the fact that the management team is likely to be different to the original application could cause problems, according to Carpani.

“If you want, you can put Rasmussen in the roster [of a registered team], that is true. But you can’t modify all the structure of the team,” he stated. “We must avoid the situation where one team dies just to create another team. That is the reason why we can’t say right now that Rasmussen has a licence, because before then we have to see the documents related to these changes.”

He said that an analysis can only be made once the documents relating to the application are delivered to the UCI and assessed.

Rasmussen has stated in the past that he believes the UCI has acted to block his signing with large professional teams. He was in negotiations with Bjarne Riis’ Saxo Bank SunGard squad for several months and believed that a deal was about to be signed, only for the team to decide otherwise and walk away.

Carpani denies that the UCI has acted against the rider. “We are blocking nobody, nobody,” he claimed. “If you are within the rules, you can do whatever you want…but you have to stick to the rules.”

Claus Hembo spoke to VeloNation prior to the site’s second contact with the UCI today. He said they have nothing to hide. “The team is being run as an open book,” he promised.

It is not known why the UCI were not fully aware that the Stenca-M1 application related to Rasmussen’s team. The acquisition of the Danish squad was announced to the media on December 9th, almost a full month ago.


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