Denmark is losing one star cyclist to another nation, and may be losing another, as well. Linda Villumsen, current national road and time trial champion, has changed her citizenship to New Zealand. Michael Rasmussen, who has said he will soon announce his new team, is considering taking on Mexican citizenship.
Villumsen, 24, told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet that she had long considered her move before actually changing her citizenship. “My connection to Denmark will always be there, but it is here in New Zealand that I have my life,” she said. “I've found my place and it gives me a great peace. I hope the Danes understand.”
Further explaining the change, the Team Columbia-HTC rider said, “On one level, I will always be a Dane. There is where I have my roots and I have family there. But New Zealand has been a part of me for many years and I am half-adopted by a family down there.”
One problem she faces is the possibility of riding the World Championships in Copenhagen for New Zealand in 2011. “For my family and friends it does not matter whether I race in the red and white of Denmark or the black of New Zealand. But I'm curious as to how the Danish spectators will receive me,” Villumsen noted.
“I hope I will not be booed. I hope the Danes will not see it as a loss that I am switching citizenship, but that instead they will welcome the fact that I have found a place where I feel at home and where I will feel good.”
Villumsen had seven victories this year, including the overall title in the Internationale Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen. She also finished third in the Worlds time trial.
Rasmussen considering Mexican citizenship
Another Danish cyclist, Michael Rasmussen, is considering changing his citizenship from Danish to Mexican. Rasmussen, 35, served a two-year suspension for lying about his whereabouts in the lead-up to the 2007 Tour de France. This summer he rode for the Mexican team Tecos-Trek, and said this week that he will announce his 2010 team before the end of the month.
Rasmussen, whose wife is Mexican, spends much time in that country. “I have studied the possibilities and have thoroughly considered changing citizenship, so I can get to ride the national championships in the future,” he told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet. “And I am still considering it. I have not had many advantages to being a Dane in recent years,”
He remains bitter against the Danish Cycling Union. “I think they are some fools in the DCU. I owe nothing to the DCU. I have no qualms about getting Mexican passports. It is rather DCU who owes me an apology.