Denmark's Michael Rasmussen had planned to make his ProTour comeback in the Vuelta a España next week, but has been told he is ineligible because he failed to register with a team that will racing. However, Alexander Vinokourov is eligible and listed as a reserve with team Astana.
Rasmussen complained the Vuelta organiser Unipublic sent him a letter saying he was ineligible to race. It cited a International Cycling Union (UCI) rule that riders must be registered with a qualified team at least 20 days before a race starts.
Rasmussen asked the UCI about his eligibility to race the Vuelta a España, UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told Cyclingnews. It wrote back there is "no obstacle from the UCI," but he must comply "with all the rules applicable to such a participation," said Carpani.
Rasmussen forwarded that letter to Unipublic and asked for permission to race. It wrote back that he was ineligible because he does not have a contract with a team which will ride in the Vuelta.
Rasmussen said that he will sign with such a team before the Vuelta starts, but it is already less than the 20 day requirement.
The UCI rules require teams to notify a race organiser of which riders might race at least twenty days before the race. Reserve riders must also appear on this list, and riders not on the submitted list are ineligible to race.
"He is not entitled to participate in the Vuelta even if he finds a new team before the start," said Carpani.
Rasmussen, 35, led the Tour de France in 2007 when he was taken out of the race and subsequently fired by Team Rabobank. He was found to have lied about his whereabouts in the time leading up to the Tour, which is considered a violation of the anti-doping regulations. The Monegasque Cycling Federation subsequently suspended him for two years, and the suspension expired the end of July.
"I am as good as signed with a team that will start in the Vuelta," Rasmussen told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. "For two years I have prepared myself for this race and I have excellent condition. I will not give up."
Vinokourov, who has ended his suspension for blood-doping, is eligible to ride in the Vuelta. Astana sponsor spokesman Rini Wagtmans told De Telegraaf that the Kazakh rider can race and that it now depends on team manager Johan Bruyneel.
Vinokourov is listed as one of the team's reserve riders for the Vuelta. Astana is yet to announce its final line-up for the race.
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