First step towards Danish-Norwegian Tour de France team
Team Christina Watches-Ofone wants to eventually turn itself into an all-star Scandinavian team, “that can win the Tour de France.” To further this goal, the team has signed a new Norwegian “star rider” and “major sponsor” from the same country, announced at a press conference yesterday.
Fredrik Wilmann,a 26-year-old with six years' experience at the Continental level with the team now called Joker-Merida and a one-year stay in 2010 with Professional Continental-ranked Skil-Shimano will headline the squad's roster. According to Danish media, he was not offered a new contract with Joker-Merida for the coming year as they were not satisfied with his performance.
Christina Watches team owner Christina Hembo sees him in a different light: “Wilmann has had a tremendous year and has on several occasions put our team in its place, therefore he has long been on our wish list. He is a rising star, and is certainly one of the best Norwegian riders,” she said at the press conference Saturday evening in Herning, according to procycling.no.
“He has significant victories in many UCI races - that says the most about him,” she continued. This season he won the Rogaland Grand Prix and Norefjell GP. In 2009 he won the overall title in the Mi-Aout Bretonne and a stage at the Tour Alsace.
Wilmann was happy with his new team. “This is a strong team with big ambitions, with the best framework and a strong sports director in Michael Blaudzun," he said. "The opportunities for development are great and it was important that I should choose this team. I think that both I and the team will have great success in 2012 and I am looking forward to it enormously.”
The new sponsor is Proteinfabrikken, a Norwegian-based “sports nutrition and nutritional brand and consumer foods supplier.” On its website it says, “PF's company vision is to be a world leader in supplying a recognisable brand for sports nutrition and special high protein, low fat and healthy nutritional products for the consumer.” It operates in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and China.
“The sponsorship is big for us and probably corresponds to the budget of small Danish continental teams,” Hembo said “At the same time we opened up our dreams of creating a Norwegian-Danish team, and we hope that this will open for other Norwegian companies.”
It is thus the first step for her ultimate dream team. “I would like to create a true Norwegian-Danish team. A team with all the major Scandinavian stars riding on it," she continued.
“A team that we Scandinavians can stand together for, rejoice and be proud of. A team that can win the Tour de France with nine Norwegians and Danes on the team,” she said.
The team currently has ten riders under contract for 2012, all of whom are Danish except for Wilmann and Angelo Furlan (Italian). More signings are expected to be announced shortly.
Christina Watches for 2012: Michael Rasmussen, Michael Reihs, René Jørgensen, Rasmus Guldhammer, Alexander Kamp, Angelo Furlan, Martin Lind, Kristian Sobota, Daniel Foder and Frederik Wilmann