Alex Rasmussen trades track racing for road focus

Dane will not defend scratch race world title

Alex Rasmussen has four world titles to his name on the track, but the Dane will abandon the discipline after the UCI's changes to the Olympic programme eliminated the events in which he excelled.

Twice a world champion in the scratch race and once in the Madison with partner Michael M¯rk¯v, Rasmussen was also part of Denmark's winning pursuit team in 2009, but is unsure he will be a part of the team when the Olympic Games come to London in 2012.

"It's been a real shame they took the Madison away, especially since it was the discipline I could win," Rasmussen told Cyclingnews at his new HTC-Highroad team's camp in California. "I don't know if I will go to the track for the Olympics. There's still a team pursuit, but I'm not sure I'm going to be there. There's a completely new team, so we'll see how good they are before the Olympics and if I can contribute."

Rasmussen says he is part of a trend of top-level endurance track cyclists who have abandoned the boards to have more lucrative careers on the road after the points race, Madison and individual pursuit were axed from the Olympic program in favor of the omnium.

"I was disappointed in the changes. It was really terrible for track cycling, it killed it for me and a lot of guys. All the guys who were good on the track just went to the road."

With the track world championships conflicting with the Spring Classics, Rasmussen said that even though these events are part of the worlds, he is not sure when he will compete on the track again aside from the occasional winter Six Day.

"You lose a lot of training momentum travelling to the Six Days and going to the worlds. This year I kind of lost it after the track. I was supposed to do Paris-Roubaix, but I didn't have very good road shape. So I did three weeks of very hard training. I had a gravel race I won in Denmark [the GP Herning on May 1], and then two stages of Dunkirk.

"It took me a month to get back into road shape, so I think if I do the track in the middle of the season it kills the momentum for the road."

In 2011, Rasmussen will be focusing on short time trials with an eye at the Paris-Nice prologue, as well as earning a spot in the lead-out train for his new teammate Mark Cavendish.

"This will be the first time I'll have the whole spring to focus on the road, so I think it's going to make a big difference for me," he said, adding that the move from Saxo Bank to HTC-Highroad will be another bonus.

"For me the team is much more focused on the things I'm good at - sprinting and time trialing are their specialties. In Saxo Bank the focus is winning the Tour and focused on helping one rider achieve that goal. For me, I think I'm going to have more opportunity to race bigger races with HTC."

Rasmussen's season will begin with the Tour of Oman where he will make his debut in the Cavendish train alongside Mark Renshaw. His schedule will then include Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, Paris-Nice, Nokere-Koerse, E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, Scheldeprijs and Paris-Roubaix.

Before his new season can begin, Rasmussen will head to his new base in Girona.

"Being in Girona is going to make a big difference. The weather in Denmark is unbelievably bad at the moment," he said. The team has another training camp scheduled for mid-January in Mallorca. He will complete the off-season with back to back Six Days, one in Berlin at the end of January and then Copenhagen two days later.


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