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Race leader Michael Rasmussen (Tecos Trek)
Dane returns from suspension to Italian Continental team
Michael Rasmussen has finally found a team for the 2010 season. The Dane has signed a one-year contract with the Continental-ranked Miche Silver Cross team, and will make his debut next week in the Tour de San Luis in Argentina.
Rasmussen, 35, was leading the 2007 Tour de France when his Rabobank team removed him from the race for violating the anti-doping “whereabouts” requirements. He was subsequently suspended for two years, and was eligible to return on July 29, 2009.
He rode the Vuelta a Chihuahua in Mexico last fall for Team Tecos Trek, winning the opening time trial and wearing the leader's jersey for three stages.
Rasmussen had wanted to ride for a higher-ranked team which would enable him to race one or more Grand Tours. "I had hoped that I would return to a higher level than what is now the case. But there is so much hypocrisy in cycling, it was not possible,” he told Danish website politiken.dk.
"I have a very clear feeling that many sports directors wanted me on the team, but they simply did not dare to employ me, because my relationship with the International Cycling Union, UCI, has not yet been completely clarified, although I have served my suspension.”
The small Italian team Miche finally offered him a contract, which he signed on January 1. Rasmussen is still looking to the future, though. “Only time will tell, but it is definitely my ambition to get to compete in the ProTour again one day.”
Meanwhile, Rasmussen is looking forward to the Tour de San Luis, where he thinks he can do well, even if he isn't in top form. “I have long been on vacation in Mexico, and although I obviously have trained, there are other participants who are significantly more advanced than I am. Also because they have long enjoyed this race as a major objective.
"But I am excited to get started and I am pretty sure that I should get a programme that gives me excellent opportunities."
The Tour de San Luis runs January 18-24.