The Italian cycling team Alessio-Bianchi will fold at the end of this season, writes Susanne Horsdal. The news is not a big surprise. Last year, the Italian alloy wheel producer hinted that it might pull out of professional cycling after the 2004 season, but now the news is official. At the moment Danish businessman John Rasmussen is having talks with three other teams currently participating in the Tour de France an attempt to forge a deal that will secure the former team Fakta riders who joined Alessio at the beginning of this season a contract for next year. When the merger between the former Fakta team and Alessio was about to go belly up last year, Rasmussen provided sponsorship from his Belgian company Memory Corporation to the sponsors former Fakta manager Peter Sejer Nielsen already had, and also helped to negotiate a deal with Alessio securing the contracts of several former Fakta riders, plus a number of other pros. It is primarily these riders Rasmussen and Peter Sejer are now trying to offer new opportunities. “We have a Danish sponsor package that we’re interested in bringing into another team and our hope is still – in some form – to be involved in running a team,” Sejer explained to procycling. The riders that the Rasmussen and Sejer Nielsen hope to be able to offer new contracts include Rene Jorgensen, Michael Skelde and the current Tour contestants Marcus Ljungqvist, Scott Sunderland, Claus Michael Moller and Magnus Backstedt, although the latter already has several other offers to consider. Rasmussen is set to continue the talks with other teams during the Tour, but doesn’t expect to have anything in place until after the race.