Michael Rasmussen has been causing a stir by making appearances at criteriums around the place, notably at Pijnacker in Holland, with fans loving it, crit organisers sympathetic and media feasting off it. The audacity of his choice of clothing, wearing the yellow jersey, knicks, helmet causing the most chat - and criticism.
When asked about his future Rasmussen said:
I want to continue to ride but I do not know yet if I will still form part of a ProTour formation next year I can sign where I want...I have had contact with a series of teams. Which? I won't say, but I hope to have returned for the Giro di Lombardia”
Well, this got me to thinking, trying to come up with a list of Pro Tour teams that Rasmussen might sign with. Right off the bat, the "I can sign where I want" statement is smashed to smithereens, but just how wide is his choice?
Let's start off with the full list of 20 Pro Tour teams and start whittling the field away for him.
It's certainly not going to be Rabobank or Team CSC with Rabobank being the team that has released him from his contract after the 2007 Tour de France and Team CSC already having their experience with him. (Snip, snip - 18 teams)
Obviously Discovery Channel and Unibet are out seeing as they won't be here next year. (Trim, trim - 16 teams)
He's not Basque so he won't be going to Eskaltel - Euskadi. (15 teams)
With the forthright anti-doping exhortations being made by the T-Mobile Team it's difficult to see them jostling to get his signature - why would they risk bringing a liar to their team. (14 teams)
I would think Astana similarly have had their fill of controversy for the time being and wouldn't be going out of their way to add him to their list. (13 teams)
By the looks of things Predictor - Lotto are bolstering their team by heading in other directions, building a squad around Cadel Evans and, likewise, Caisse D'Epargne are throwing themselves behind Alejandro Valverde. (11 teams)
Now I'm going to do a little wild speculation on behalf of a few teams...
Based on the fact that Team Milram is centred around their 2 sprinters, Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel they would haardly want to divide the team's responsibilities by having to ride hard to protect a jersey. Likewise, Quickstep do all their hard work catching break aways for Tom Boonen and Credit Agricole do a similar job for Thor Hushovd so they'd be unlikely to come knocking on Rasmussen's door. (Like I said, wild speculation). (8 teams)
Lampre-Fondital strikes me as a team of sprinters / classic riders. Guys like Baldato, Bennati Ballan and Napolitano being present and currently prominent in big races could mean they would have trouble justifying signing a guy like Rasmussen. (7 teams)
I think maybe for the rest of the teams it could come down to which team can afford the kind of money a Grand Tour contender would command. Given the circumstances under which he has parted company with Rabobank his price would have to be a little cheaper, but still pretty high compared to many other riders.
I can see a pretty good fit with a couple of the remaining teams who would see Rasmussen as an ideal complement to their existing teams. Gerolsteiner possibly...or maybe Saunier Duval or even Liquigas with Danilo Di Luca.
So which out of AG2R Prevoyance, Liquigas, Bouygues Telecom, Saunier Duval, Francaise des Jeux, Gerolsteiner or Cofidis would be able to afford him?