UCI approves Continental licence of Rasmussen’s Christina Watches team
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Friday, March 11, 2011

UCI approves Continental licence of Rasmussen’s Christina Watches team

by Shane Stokes at 11:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Green light for Danish squad

Michael Rasmussen and Christina HemboThe Christina Watches - Onfone team of Michael Rasmussen has officially received approval of a Continental licence from the UCI, and will begin racing next week.

The Danish team had been chasing a licence for the past three months, with Hembo buying the previous Team Bianchi M1 squad after Rasmussen was unable to secure a ride with the Saxo Bank-SunGard outfit.

The watch designer had been acting as his personal sponsor, and previously stated that she would cover his salary payments if a pro team agreed to sign him.

”After our meeting with DCU [the Danish Cycling Union], where Claus Hembo and DCU chairman Tom Lund agreed on forgetting the past and look forward, things went quickly,” said Christina Hembo.

“The organization of the DCU and, not least, Tom Lund has honoured the agreement and worked hard to help the team. I am very pleased that the last theoretical obstacle now is gone and that next week we will already ride our debut race.”

Lund and the DCU had previously been critics of Rasmussen, and so working out their differences is a step forward for the rider. It remains to be seen if the team will now be granted a place in the Tour of Denmark, something that was previously denied.

He is a double winner of the Tour de France King of the Mountains competition, and looked almost certain to win the 2007 Tour de France before being forced to withdraw by his-then Rabobank team. It was under media pressure as he had lied about his whereabouts prior to the race.

He served a two year ban and returned to competition in the autumn of 2009, but was unable to secure a contract with at ProTeam. While the Christina Watches - Onfone squad is starting at the Continental level, it has stated that it plans to grow in the seasons ahead. The goal is to get an place in the Tour de France within five year’s time.

“Obviously I am well aware that in 2016 it’s probably not me who will be doing the Tour de France,” said Rasmussen in December, referring to the fact that he would be 40 years old then. “But I have a very clear goal of driving the car behind and helping along the way in the ambition of [the team] taking part in the Tour.”

UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani confirmed that the team’s takeover of another squad had been approved, and that it had now the Continental licence it was seeking. The UCI’s website has also been updated to reflect the change.

The team stated today that Hembo is now officially the world’s first female team owner.

It has signed fifteen riders, with the most recent being the sprinter Angelo Furlan. He came on board earlier this month, and said that he believed it would have a successful season. “From the sideline I have seen the team taking shape and it is my evaluation, that Christina Watches – Onfone is, without comparison, by far the strongest Danish Continental team.

“My job is clear. Every time a race will be decided in a sprint, I am expected to win races and I believe, that 2011 will be a year where you will se me as the winner quite often.”

Rasmussen will also be trying to win races where possible. He’s entering the final years of his career and will want to rebuild his image and to win races without doubts.


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