Michael Rasmussen came face to face with his former employer on Thursday, when the Danish cyclist was in court seeking damages of 5.5 million euro for his dismissal from Rabobank last July. The two-hour hearing took place in a district court in Utrecht, The Netherlands, where lawyers representing each side contested the legitimacy of Rasmussen's sacking from the Dutch ProTour team.
Rasmussen's lawyer, Andre Brantjes, insisted that Rabobank was fully aware of the Dane's whereabouts in June, when he provided false information to the International Cycling Union (UCI) regarding his location in the days leading up to the Tour de France. Brantjes said that while there was no doubt his client had lied, team managers Theo de Rooy and Erik Breukink knew he was training in Italy and not in Mexico.
"My client still has no idea why he was dismissed," said Brantjes according to ANP.
Rabobank lawyer Harro Knijff countered that this was nonsense and said that Rabobank did not know where Rasmussen was during the month of June. "The reason for the dismissal is very clear, it was because he provided incorrect information to the team," said Knijff.
After all the text messages, e-mails and phone calls between Rasmussen, De Rooy and Breukink were heard by the court, very little new information was available. A decision is expected by July 2, three days before the start of the Tour de France. However, the 34 year-old Rasmussen would then have the right to appeal and the judge may also decide that more evidence is needed, which would prolong the case further.
Outside the court, Rasmussen and his lawyer declined to comment, but Rabobank representative Henri van der Aat, who took over as temporary general director after De Rooy's resignation told ANP: "Rasmussen has lied so much and he just goes on. Everything that was said today was already known. It is just a repetition."
Asked whether it might be better for Rabobank to settle the case, rather than incur the negative publicity, Van der Aat said: "Settle? That would never do. In our view he was rightly dismissed. Of course I would prefer that this case was over, but we will not settle a case when we have the law on our side. We have confidence in the ruling of the court."