While both the Tour de France organizers and the International Cycling Union have stated that they would not prevent Michael Rasmussen from riding the Tour again, it remains to be seen whether or not he will find a team with which to do so.
Team Saxo Bank's Bjarne Riis has said that the Dane deserves a second chance but indicated it must not necessarily be with his team. Now Brian Holm has said that HTC-Columbia has also turned down Rasmussen, and Holm indicated his doubts as to what Rasmussen might still accomplish at this point.
Rasmussen was removed from the 2007 Tour de France while leading the race, and was subsequently given a two-year suspension for lying about his whereabouts in the period leading up to the race.
About a year later, Holm said that he discussed with Bob Stapleton and Rolf Aldag whether Team HTC-Columbia should sign the Dane. He told the Danish website Politiken.dk that the suggestion did not meet with a positive response, mainly due to Rasmussen's age.
If Rasmussen, 36, has trouble finding a top team to sign with for the future, it may be a combination of his age and his lack of results since coming back, Holm said.
“In my view, on the big teams there is a general trend towards an emphasis on youth, rather than on riders of Michael's age. That was the reason I got when I brought up Michael with our American boss Bob Stapleton, and without knowing it, I could imagine that it is also true for Bjarne.”
Holm rejected Rasmussen's theory that there is a conspiracy to keep him out of the Tour. “Neither the UCI or Tour de France organizers have ever had a desire to blacklist Michael, and while it has been so hard for him to come back, you must also remember that he is not nearly as big a name internationally as here at home,” Holm said.
Rasmussen first came back with a small Mexican team, and won a stage at the Vuelta a Chihuahua in 2009, as well as finishing sixth overall. Returning to Europe, he rode for Miche Pro Cycling Team, before cancelling his contract in mid-April. He was diagnosed with glandular fever and has not raced since early April.
"I would not rule out that Michael Rasmussen could do well in the Tour de France, but I have trouble seeing him as, for example, King of the Mountains again," Holm said.
"He is 36 years old after all, and that is an age when most riders are thinking about stopping,” Holm said. “It could also prove a handicap that he has been away so long .”
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