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Michael Blaudzun, Christina Hembo and Michael Rasmussen
Christina Watches announces new sponsor and is looking for experienced riders
Team Christina Watches-Onfone is determined that Michael Rasmussen will win the Tour of Denmark this year, but the Danish Cycling Union is equally determined that he will not be allowed in the race. The team also announced its new sponsor at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
The new co-name sponsor is Onfone, the Danish-owned telecommunications firm, which claims to be the second-largest in the country, with over 250,000 customers.
The details of their sponsorship were not announced, but their investment is said to be “millions.”
The DCU has already said that Rasmussen would not be welcome at the Tour of Denmark, which it organizes. Feltet.dk published minutes of the DCU's meeting on January 16, which quoted president Tom Lund as saying, “MR is the same person who tells the press that we are corrupt fools and wants us dead. The Board's experience is that MR tells his own version of things, which largely go to discredit the DCU. MR is running his own show and we will not be part of it.”
The minutes also indicated that the team would be welcome without Rasmussen.
That would not be acceptable, according to team owner Claus Hembo. “It is unthinkable that Christina Watches starts the Tour of Denmark without Michael Rasmussen,” he told sporten.tv2.dk.
"I think the probability that we will ride the Tour of Denmark is very high. We will obviously be out to show that we can ride strong, and I do not doubt that we can.
"Actually I am sure that our objective is not to ride in the Tour of Denmark. Our goal is to win the Tour of Denmark with Michael Rasmussen.”
Team still looking to add experience
Meanwhile, the team's sporting director Michael Blaudzun admitted that the team is largely young and inexperienced. “We have many young riders on the team and I have my doubts as to whether we have the depth to deliver results over an entire season,” he told Sporten.dk.
“For now, we have in my eyes 5 or 6 riders who can deliver consistent results over a season. Of course I believe in my riders. We have a good team," Blaudzun said to Feltet.dk.
The team currently has 14 riders under contract, all Danish. Former pro Jörg Jaksche, 34, has said that he is negotiations with the team, but, according to Blaudzun, Jaksche “is not my priority right now. He has not raced in over three years and it is very uncertain what his form is.”
Another name that has been mentioned is Italian sprinter Angelo Furlan. “We could certainly use a good fast man like Furlan. But there are still some important details that must fall into place in terms of both economics and logistics, if he should ride for us. "
But the next signing may be someone entirely different. "We are in contact with a Danish rider who could give us some of what we are missing. But you will not get me to reveal who it is we're looking at.”