Administrative problems at the Circuit de la Sarthe kept Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Sharp) from making his comeback on April 2. The Danish rider was banned after missing three out-of-competition doping controls which were part of the whereabouts system (ADAMS). His ban ended on March 18 but when heading to Sarthe Rasmussen was denied the start.
At the time the 28-year-old Dane believed that he received a lifetime ban from racing instead of the backdated 18-months ban he received from the International Cycling Union (UCI). Later it was suggested that the race officials on site might have mistaken him with Michael Rasmussen. Problems were eventually resolved and on April 11th, Alex Rasmussen managed to make his comeback race at the Brabantse Pijl, a Belgian semi-classic.
Though lining up in miserable weather conditions at the Town Hall in Leuven the Dane was all smiles. “I’m really happy to race in the rain. Then I can really see how much I missed cycling. I’m super excited to race in the rain,” Rasmussen told Cyclingnews.
It was still unclear to Rasmussen why he wasn’t allowed to take the start in the Circuit de la Sarthe. When not being allowed to race he tweeted: “Just got taken out of La Sarthe by the evil and powerful UCI. Lifetime ban in effect by the UCI apperantly [sic].” Two hours later a new tweet followed: “UCI have finally cleared me for racing again. One hour after denying me the start in La Sarthe.”
On Wednesday Rasmussen figured the rumours about an identity switch were true. “I don’t think it was that. I think that it was because of Easter. At the UCI they have a four Easter holiday while I had my start in Sarthe on Tuesday so they didn’t get it through. They had to send a mail to the Sarthe for me to race and that email came one hour after the race started. I think that was the problem,” Rasmussen explained.
There were also rumours about a possible lifetime ban. “It was a joke. So many times they say you can race. Back in January a first time, then March and then again, now it’s April. I was making fun of the UCI. You have to because I have no power to change the situation. Now I can race so I’m happy. I can’t change what the UCI does. It’s really hard. They have the power in cycling at the moment.”
According to a news item in The Guardian the UCI believed the problem was due to administrative errors from the rider’s Garmin-Sharp team. The UCI said Rasmussen was not eligible to race after “documents he was required to provide to Ernst & Young to allow registration were not provided in time.”
Rasmussen didn’t manage to complete his comeback race, abandoning the Brabantse Pijl which was eventually won by Peter Sagan (Cannondale).