Rasmussen’s problems are only beginning

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.

3 thoughts on “Rasmussen’s problems are only beginning”

  1. Is Rasmussen that much of a disgrace/problem? Implicated in various doping claims, Suspension served, etc – BUT viewed in the context of the "big picture" is he that bad?

    Or is it simply that, the cycling media jumped on the "ban this man" bandwagon, all followed suit and its a case of "we started so lets finish"?
    After all, he was kicked off the TDF…
    (fine line between staying & going at the TDF : Ref Probenocide Delagdo / Bum Cream Armstrong) there but for the grace of TUE or a technicality….

    Why should Rasmussen be any different to the multitude of pro riders who have been caught "scooby snacking" denied it, been sentenced, then come back to the teams and bunches, without much murmuring, yet he remains an exception…?

    Does it amount to the detail he knows & thus, a collective fear?
    He is not the first aged bike rider to "stay in the bunch too long" and he certainly won't be the last, but the selective hypocrisy demonstrated across the board by cycling media & orgs is a far worse crime.

    Thomas Dekker
    Bernard Kohl
    Stefan Schumacher
    Patrick Sinkewitz
    Ricardo Ricco
    Jamie Alberts

    as a random snatch of samples, all the above vary considerably. You may agree/disagree, but they all remain people & ultimately bikeriders..

  2. I agree, there is an inconsistent approach. Although Rasmussen has managed to annoy a lot of people in the process, from federations to race organisers to the UCI, not to mention some powerful people in Dutch cycling.

    My point isn't that he can't come back, rather that building a team around him is a project likely to fail. Especially since Rasmussen seems unlikely to win that much, clean or not.

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