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Embattled Tour de France leader Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
Team leaders "not telling the truth", Dane claims
Theo de Rooij, former general manager of the Rabobank team, testified that he was convinced that Michael Rasmussen was in Mexico training for the 2007 Tour de France. Rasmussen had claimed to be in Mexico but was actually in Italy, and he was removed from the Tour whilst leading the race and subsequently fired by the Dutch team when the truth came out. The Dane said that de Rooij and Erik Breukink "did not tell the truth" to the court.
After being fired for lying about his whereabouts, Rasmussen sued the team, saying it was aware of where he was, and demanded 5.8 million Euros in damages and back pay. The trial continued on Monday, with the next session scheduled for December 18.
De Rooij did not find it unusual that Rasmussen would apparently travel to his wife's homeland of Mexico to train. "Riders are training more in distant places," he said, according to the ANP news agency.
Rasmussen's lawyer pointed out that de Rooij may have thought the rider was in Mexico, but faxed him information during that period to an Italian phone number. "I did that without thinking," de Rooij said.
Team director Erik Breukink also testified that he thought Rasmussen was in Mexico, as claimed.
De Rooij resigned shortly after Rasmussen's firing. Breukink's contract with the team is to end this year. Rabobank has also announced that it will stop sponsoring the team as well.
Rasmussen attended the day in court, and after seven hours of testimony, disagreed with what de Rooij and Breukink said. "I'm sure they're not telling the truth.
"Maybe there are more truths," he said cryptically, "but I'm sure they knew here I was before the Tour."