Despite their continued concerns over the withdrawal of the Madison from the Olympic track programme, Alex Rasmussen and Michael Mørkøv will take to the Ballerup Arena in Copenhagen next month keen to defend their World Madison title in front of a home crowd.
The two ended a strong six-day season with victory at the Six-days of Copenhagen last week, and the duo will take to the road with Saxo Bank in the lead up to the track Worlds, March 25-28. They will head into the event as hot favourites to claim back-to-back wins. However, outspoken critics of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) recent decision to remove the event from Olympic competition they told Cyclingnews that they expect a negative knock-on effect to the status of the World title.
"It's not good and we hope they will bring it back into the Olympics. I think the prestige of the Madison at the World Championships will suffer as a result," Mørkøv told Cyclingnews in Mallorca, Spain on Monday. "The Omnium will draw riders away and the [Madison] peloton will be weakened; it won’t have the best riders."
The IOC's decision could also have a devastating impact upon the quality of fields at European six-day events and, in turn, attendances. Rasmussen and Mørkøv have been one of the most formidable combinations throughout the 2009/2010 six-day season, taking wins at the Gent, Berlin and Copenhagen events. Though concerned about the future of the Madison format, the two are pleased with their strong season as World Champions.
"We expected to be strong, we've been together for four years now and we expect to stay together for some time to come," said Rasmussen. "This year's World Championships remain a major goal and we hope to defend our title."
We wanted to have a good six-day season. We were proud to be wearing the World Champion's jersey and to be able to show it off," added Mørkøv.
The two will now turn their attention to the road with Saxo Bank, with a programme that will see Mørkøv compete in Milan-Sanremo the Sunday before the Track World Championships. "We'll ride on the road up until the Worlds and then, take three days off to do those," he said.
Both are hoping their strong track form will then flow into their major objectives on the road. This season will see Mørkøv compete in his first Grand Tour, the Giro d'Italia, while Rasmussen will compete in both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the fortnight immediately following the track Worlds.
"For me, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix are the major goals of the season," said Rasmussen, who will form part of a strong Classics team, to be led by Fabian Cancellara and Stuart O'Grady.
For Mørkøv, the Giro will also be a touchstone in his five year professional career. "I think our best riders will probably travel to the Tour of California. We'll have a small team and Chris Anker Sørensen will be our leader. He's strong but it's not going to be a team to win the race. For me it's all about learning."