Tozzi: Rasmussen deserves another start in pro cycling
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tozzi: Rasmussen deserves another start in pro cycling

by Conal Andrews at 6:54 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 

Controversial rider Michael Rasmussen has been given a vote of confidence from the Miche Silver Cross team owner Marco Tozzi, who says that he is entitled to return to pro cycling.

“I feel that Rasmussen has the right to have a second chance like Basso and other riders when they have served their quarantine. I certainly cannot see why he should not return,” Tozzi told Feltet.dk.

The Danish climber was just four days from an almost-certain victory in the 2007 Tour de France when he was forced to withdraw over what he later admitted were lies about his whereabouts prior to the race.

He had said he was in Mexico, but was actually training in Italy; in theory, this prevented out of competition tests being carried out on him during that period.

Last October Rasmussen competed in the Vuelta a Chihuahua in Mexico for the Tecos Trek team, winning a stage, leading for three days and finishing sixth overall. He spent several months searching for a team, and finally signed an agreement with the small Miche team.

Tozzi hopes that he will both secure victories for the Italian squad, and also help it grow into a bigger outfit. He accepts that Rasmussen’s priority will be to be with a team that can guarantee him access to the major events, but feels that his squad can evolve to suit his needs.

“He will deliver high results with Miche, [especially] if he’d like a bigger team in 2011. We have a good programme, both in Italy and the rest of Europe, where he can test himself against the great riders from both ProTour and professional teams,” he stated. “We can expect great things from him. We can remember the level that Michael previously had, so I think he’ll show us [again] he is a great rider.”

Rasmussen has made it clear that he wants to get back to riding the biggest events in the sport. He wants to prove a point and, undoubtedly, to take a Grand Tour victory like he nearly did in 2007. However Miche is not amongst the 16 teams awarded the UCI’s Wild Card status for this season, meaning that it will be unable to contest the Grand Tours plus many other major events.

Tozzi dismissed rumours that the 35 year old Dane will be able to opt out of his current contract if another team can guarantee him a start in a three week race.

“He has a written contract for 2010 with no clauses,” he said. “So, this year, he represents the Miche team. I don’t know yet what will happen next year, but I hope he stays with us. If he will, we can also do good races in Denmark and Northern Europe, if the race organisers would like to invite us.”

Last month Rasmussen finished eighth in the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. He is chasing his first results in Europe, but may face further complications to his career if investigations continue into the Humanplasma affair in Vienna. Former Gerolsteiner rider Bernhard Kohl implicated him in that, saying that he was one of several athletes involved in blood doping. Rasmussen has denied the claims.


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