Michael Rasmussen is “in a state of shock” at the news he won't ride for Team Saxo Bank-SunGard in 2011, but appears set to act as captain of a team his personal sponsor is trying to set up for him. Christina Hembo is looking for additional sponsors for Christina Racing, of which Rasmussen is part owner.
Saxo Bank-SunGard team owner Bjarne Riis confirmed this week that he would not sign Rasmussen. “It is a comprehensive decision and it is a summation of many things that I don't want to go into detail about,” he told the Ritzau news agency.
Negotiations took place, he confirmed, but appear not to have been too serious on the team's side. “Were there long negotiations? I don't know. It is mostly the press who was involved."
"I'm in a state of shock right now. I am extremely disappointed and sad,” Rasmussen told Ritzau. “This is something that has been going on for a long time and I had so much wanted to ride races again with Bjarne's team.”
“I know from Bjarne, that there are no sporting reasons behind the decision. But beyond that, I do not know anything.”
Personal sponsor looks to keep on helping
Rasmussen served a two-year doping-related suspension, which expired in July 2009. He rode that summer for the Mexican team Tecos Trek, and rode the first part of 2010 with the Italian Continental-ranked team Miche Silver Cross.
Since July he has ridden for Christina Racing, under his personal sponsor Christina Hembo, a watch designer. So far he has been the only one on the team, but Hembo is looking to change that.
"I will now, in cooperation with Michael Rasmussen, work to make Christina Racing a 'real cycling team' with Michael as team captain and part owner of the team, she said in a written statement, according to dr.dk.
"I don't have the resources to own a cycling team that can make its mark on the big stage. Therefore, I invite all good forces that might be interested in ownership and/or sponsorship of Christina Racing to get in touch with me.”
She said that Riis told her personally of his decision not to hire Rasmussen. “I am incredibly sorry for Bjarne Riis' decision. I had believed that Bjarne would recruit Michael.”
"Michael is in my eyes an amazing athlete, who deserves a comeback, if anyone does. Simultaneously, he has through the past six months proved to me, as well as to the Danish people that he is also a fantastic person. "