|Rasmussen and Hembo team up|
First there was the cryptic press release yesterday. We got news that Michael Rasmussen’s biggest fan Christina Hembo has bought an entire Continental team for him. Hembo runs a watch company and is a long-time backer of Rasmussen, now she’s increased her sponsorship from one man to an entire team in order to get Rasmussen back in the bunch.
|The same blue knitwear|
It’s a touching display of support but one that borders on the bizarre. If many existing teams won’t touch him, perhaps this says plenty about Rasmussen’s troubles? The sport has had its fair share of doping scandals but being ejected from the Tour de France whilst in the Maillot Jaune probably takes the biscuit, and this was compounded by a lack of remorse and then amplified by more recent rumours of links to an Austrian doping ring.
Even if we generously catalogue all this as mere history and simply say he’s cleared to ride then looking to the future I can only see more problems. The first is a matter of time, or age. He’s 36 years old, an age when he is no longer an exciting prospect but firmly on the decline. Next, if he was “exciting” whilst apparently reliant on a substantial doping programme, it makes you wonder about how good he’d be if he stuck to bread and water.
All this means few race organisers are going to get excited about The Chicken. A team built around him risks seeing invitations declined rather than accepted. Given the squad is at Continental level, it will have to try very hard to get invited to the big races where Rasmussen could hope to shine, for example some smaller stage races in Spain or Italy. Yet the prospect of a team of unknown Danes accompanied by an ageing weirdo is probably going to put most organisers off. Why invite this team when others probably offer more?
I’m sorry if this a bit negative but it does seem to be a strange case, an entire team set up to showcase a rider of dubious reputation. Even if he is welcome back, the team now seems reliant on Rasmussen and the entire squad, from riders to staff, is now associated with this complex case whether they like it or not.