Dane Michael Rasmussen is reportedly close to joining his country’s top team, Saxo Bank. Team Manager Bjarne Riis launches his autobiography on Sunday in Copenhagen, but his mind is on filling the gap that Alberto Contador may leave.

Rasmussen has not raced for a top team since Rabobank forced him to abandon the 2007 Tour de France while wearing the yellow jersey. During the race, the Danish cycling federation and the International Cycling Union (UCI) showed that he missed out-of-competition anti-doping controls. After a two-year ban, Rasmussen made his comeback with second division, Italian team Miche.

“Contador is irreplaceable. It would be extremely optimistic to hire me and believe that the team could then ask to start the Tour de France and win,” Rasmussen told Denmark’s Ekstra Bladet. “If Bjarne Riis thinks I’m interesting, it will hold true whether Contador is racing on the team or not.”

Riis’ new star signing, three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador is facing a possible doping ban for Clenbuterol. Contador will know more after the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) finish their review of his Tour de France anti-doping controls. His troubles leave an opportunity for Rasmussen to return to Riis’ team, where he made his debut as a professional in 2002.

When asked if Rasmussen is on Saxo Bank’s wish list in September, Riis was his normal reserved self.

“I do not know if he is,” he told Denmark’s BT newspaper. “I will not say. I have not reached a decision yet.”

Rasmussen joining Saxo Bank, however, seems like a Danish dream. A dream in which Riis magically gives Rasmussen the wings to become Denmark’s first Tour de France winner since Riis himself in 1996. Riis knows that he is better off looking somewhere else due to Rasmussen’s age, 36, and doping past.

Besides missing anti-doping controls ahead of the Tour de France in 2007, Rasmussen is linked to an Austrian blood doping case with his former agent Stefan Matschiner and cyclist Bernhard Kohl.

“I wait to see if this case develops further before going further with Michael,” said Riis last month to Denmark’s Politiken newspaper. “So far I just can assess, nothing new has emerged. It is certainly not difficult to get Bernhard Kohl to say something about Michael.”

Team Saxo Bank

Continuing riders:

Jonathan Bellis

Baden Cooke

Laurent Didier

Juan José Haedo

Lucas Sebastian Haedo

Jonas Aaen Jörgensen

Kasper Klostergård

Gustav Larsson

Jaroslaw Marycz

Michael Morkov Christensen

Richie Porte

Chris Anker Sørensen

Nicki Sørensen

André Steensen

New riders:

Manuele Boaro

Mads Christensen

Alberto Contador

Volodimir Gustov

Jesús Hernández

Daniel Navarro

Benjamin Noval

Nick Nuyens

David Tanner

Brian Vandborg

Related links

Saxo Bank to continue sponsorship with or without Contador

July 2007: Rasmussen out of Tour

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