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Massive changes at Christina Watches as team seeks to change domestic Danish image

By:
Cycling News
Published:
October 5, 2012, 18:40,
Updated:
October 5, 2012, 19:42
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, October 6, 2012
Angelo Furlan gives Rasmussen and Schumacher a noogie

Angelo Furlan gives Rasmussen and Schumacher a noogie

  • Angelo Furlan gives Rasmussen and Schumacher a noogie
  • Michael Rasmussen and Daniel Foder of Christina Watches - Onfone
  • Michael Blaudzun, Christina Hembo and Michael Rasmussen
  • Thomas Frei and Christine Hembo of Christine Watches-Onfone

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Nine of 16 riders and team's only sport director leaving at end of season

Michael Rasmussen's team Christina Watches-Onfone will undergo massive changes in the coming year, and no longer considers itself a Danish team. Nine of the 17 riders are leaving the team, as is its only sport director. The team will also concentrate more on international races and less on domestic races in Denmark.

The Danish media said that “chaos threatens” at the team, but CEO Claus Hembo told sporten.dk,  “Our squad will now be strengthened even more. This has meant that we now must say goodbye to riders who either leave of their own accord or who we do not feel fit into our set-up for 2013.”

The team, which is hoping to ride the Tour de France in 2016, recently announced that it would not seek a Professional Continental licence for the coming year, as expected, but would continue at the Continental level.

One serious matter of debate is whether the Continental team should be mostly Danish or not,with the springtime departure of sport director Michael Blaudzun apparently marking a change on the team. One of the riders leaving is Dane Rasmus Guldhammer.

“I was fine with sport director Michael Blaudzun of Team Christina Watches, but after he stopped, it has been a difficult time on the team,,” he told sporten.dk. “The economics has not been anything special. It is foreigners and not me, who had the largest salaries on the team.”

Michel Riehs, one of the most experienced riders on the domestic scene, is also leaving at the end of the season, as his salary demands were not met. He too said that Blaudzun's departure was “a big loss for the team.”

Blaudzun joined the team from the beginning, but quit this past spring, saying, “It has been incredibly demanding, and I have not always agreed in the sporting priorities and pace of the team's growth.”

His place was taken by Allan Bo Andresen, who is now leaving at the end of the season. While he said it was “tremendously exciting to be part of the team,” he regretted seeing the the Danish riders leave. 

"My personal opinion is that it should be a good representation of Danish riders on a continental team.” For the coming year, however, the team is said to be looking to sign Eastern European and Italian riders.

“We are not a Danish development team,” Hembo said. “There will be exciting foreign names in the  2013 season and we will in general turn down some of the Danish races for many of the invitations we have from Asia after our victories in the Tour of China.”

That victory in the Tour of China went to Stefan Schumacher, a German rider who has returned from a doping ban but not yet been able to move out of the Continental ranks. He has brought in five of the team's seven wins this year, including the overall titles in the Tour of Serbia and the Tour of China II.

The nine riders leaving the team include Danes Reihs, Guldhammer, Daniel Foder, Rene Jorgensen, Alexander Kamp Egested, Martin Lind, Kristian Sobota, and Niki Byrgesen. Also leaving is Swiss rider Thomas Frei, who joined the team the end of May after serving a two-year doping ban.

That leaves the team at the moment with Angelo Furlan (Italy), Schumacher (Germany), Frederik Wilmann (Norway) and Danes Kenneth Hansen, Martin Pedersen, Rasmussen, and Jimmi Sorensen.