By Susanne Horsdal
On July 26 it'll be two years and one day exactly since Michael Rasmussen was withdrawn from the Tour de France - only a few days away from a very likely overall victory in La Grand Boucle - and later fired from Rabobank.
Almost a year later the Monaco Cycling Federation suspended him for two years for breach of the whereabouts rules. Rasmussen admitted to not having complied with the whereabouts regulations but on June 22 last year appealed the length of the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). In November the hearing was held and since then Rasmussen hasn't heard anything.
"I'm just waiting. I still know as much – or as little - as anyone else," Michael Rasmussen told Cyclingnews. At first he was told to expect an answer to his appeal between December 6 and 10. This was then postponed to "before Christmas", but Rasmussen is still waiting.
"My lawyer contacts them regularly. He's had maybe 10-15 cases with CAS and he's never experienced anything like this," said Rasmussen, who admits he's growing impatient. And impatient to get back to racing. Despite having turned 34 the Dane has no intentions of giving up his career and trains as much as anyone else.
"I'm normally not known as one who rides fast in the spring, but in December I rode 2500 kilometres and this month I'll do about 3000 kilometres so I'm probably not training very differently from my colleagues at this time of the year. I have no problems keeping my training morale high – after all, July isn't that far away, so for now that's what I'm training towards," said Rasmussen. He is currently making one exception to his normal regime. "I basically live as if I was racing, but I'm not watching my weight as carefully. I generally eat and drink as I like - for the first time in 15 years."
With the uncertainty of his return date to racing he's not yet been in contact with teams regarding a contract. "People still want clarity and that's only fair," he said. But his ambitions to race with the best of his profession haven't abandoned him whether it'll be from July 26 or earlier. If he has to wait until late July his hope is to participate in the Vuelta a España.
"I expect that I can get to race on a good team again. My ambitions are to race on a high level and since the Vuelta takes place in the part of the season where I'm able to race again and it's a race that suits me, it's obviously a priority for me," said Rasmussen. "But I'm not in a position where I can make demands."
And for now he has to just watch his cycling colleagues taking the first turns in a new season kicked off with the Tour Down Under and the return of Lance Armstrong. "It doesn't bother me to see them saddling up again. After all July isn't that far away, and regarding Armstrong I think it's excellent that he is back. Cycling needs some superstars at the moment. I don't see it as him stealing the lime light. Those who are already interested in cycling would follow it whether he is there or not, but maybe he can attract those who are not that interested in the sport and just know him as the cancer survivor who won seven Tours. That I think is only positive."