Saxo Bank’s team boss, Bjarne Riis ended Michael Rasmussen’s hopes of returning to the top-level with Denmark’s biggest team today.
“I have seen the newspapers reports and rumours that I will announce Michael as the new rider,” Riis told Denmark’s Ekstra Bladet newspaper. “It should end quickly: I hardly have contact with him, there is no agreement and I will not hire Michael Rasmussen for team Saxo bank-SunGard.”
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Riis launched his autobiography today in Copenhagen. The book, called Riis, covers his career, his 1996 Tour de France win and his EPO use.
Riis’ new star signing, three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador is facing doping problems of his own. The Spaniard tested positive for weight loss drug Clenbuterol on July 21, on the Tour de France’s second rest day. Plasticizers were also found in Contador’s blood control, which could indicate he had a blood transfusion. However, the analysis to test link is not yet approved.
Riis and Contador will know more after the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) finish their review of his anti-doping controls. Some media speculated that his troubles left the door open for 36-yera-old Dane Rasmussen return to the top with his home team.
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 UCI showed that he missed out-of-competition anti-doping controls. He returned to racing after a two-year ban with second division, Italian team Miche, which is unable to race the three-week Grand Tours.
“But I want to reiterate,” added Riis, “that I hope Michael gets an opportunity to get to race again. Because he has earned it after he has served his sentence.”
Riis hired Contador to replace stars Fränk and Andy Schleck. The brothers will be the headline riders in a new team based in their home country of Luxembourg. Former Saxo Bank rider, Fabian Cancellara is also expected to make the jump to the Schlecks’ team.
In addition to Contador’s signing in August, Riis hired Spanish support riders Jesús Hernández, Jesús Hernández and Daniel Navarro. However, they may have to support emerging Grand Tour rider, Australian Richie Porte or Dane Chris Anker Sørensen if Contador is found guilty.
Contador maintains his innocence and says that the Clenbuterol came from contaminated Spanish meat that he ate during the Tour de France