Time trialing has never been Michael Rasmussen's special skill, as he proved in the 2005 Tour de France, but he is now faces his biggest race against the clock as he has only a few weeks to gather enough sponsors and money to ensure that his new team, Christina Watches, will get a UCI license.
"I'm spending a lot of hours trying to find sponsors for the team. It's all so new and we are so late in the year, it's a race against time to find the funds that will elevate the overall package, “ he told sporten.dk.
The UCI deadline for his application for a Continental-ranking license is January 10, and he must have his financials in place by that time.
“We have actually 14 days to get answers from the sponsors, and it's pressure because we are now entering the Christmas and holidays, where people just take time off and just don't manage to negotiate and make decisions,” Rasmussen said. “But I have enough to do to keep the dialogue going, because it is me who represents the project and therefore potential partners also know that they can expect to see me at the negotiating table.”
He already has his bike sponsor lined up, Pinarello, he said.
Rasmussen said that he has heard from many riders who are interested in riding for his team, but he is still working out the details.
“It's a little hard to get clarity over when there really is the deadline for awarding rider contracts for a Continental team. It is a little hard to get a clear answer from the Danish Cycling Union (DCU) this point,” he said. .
DCU President Tom Lund told sporten.dk that Rasmussen would have to get his answers from the UCI. “If the team really builds on the licence application which team M1-Bianchi submitted, then it is an unusual case.”
Limited Edition watch
The team is also taking another unusual step. His team and personal sponsor, watch designer Christina Hembo, now offers a limited edition Michael Rasmussen Cycling Watch to raise funds for the team.
“From the recommended retail price the 200 Euro goes without any deductions to ensure the capital foundation of the cycling team,” according to the Christina Watches website.
The left side of the case traces “the route profile of Michael Rasmussen's greatest stage victory from Orthez to Col d'Abisque in the Tour de France July 25 2007.” The signatures of both Rasmussen and Hembo are engraved on the back.
Owners of the watch will also receive a newsletter and be invited to attend the team's Christmas party for only a 40 Euro fee. The watches are scheduled to be delivered next August.