Riis wants track stars Rasmussen and Morkov to drop world championship
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Riis wants track stars Rasmussen and Morkov to drop world championship

by Conal Andrews at 7:03 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Track
 

Four-time world champions Alex Rasmussen and Michael Mørkøv have been mixing road and track seasons for quite a while, and generated a lot of publicity for their Saxo Bank team during the off season when they won several six-day races.

However, despite their status as two of the best track riders in the business. Team Saxo Bank owner Bjarne Riis has decided that he wants to put an end to their participation in the track world championship.

“The issue is very, very simple and the conditions are applicable to both Alex Rasmussen and Michael Mørkøv, since I also believe that the latter may evolve into an important component in the big races which are so important for us in the first part of the season,” he told Politiken.dk.

“It is imperative that they drop the world championships on the track if they are to be used with us in connection with races such as Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. In these events, we have obvious winning contenders in Fabian Cancellara and Matti Breschel and that is why it is so important that we have a close-knit squad around them.”

“For Alex and Michael, it means that they must be available in all the races which lie in the period up to Flanders, and it will inevitably collide with the track world championship."

Last month, Rasmussen took his second career gold in the men’s scratch race at the track world championships in Ballerup, Denmark. His victory on home soil earned huge attention at home and overseas, but his and Michael Mørkøv’s fourth place in the Madison showed that no matter how clear the favourites are beforehand, there are no guarantees. They had been aiming for their third rainbow jersey in that discipline, but knee problems for Morkov in the weeks leading up to the event affected his preparation.

Riis wll have weighed this result up and decided that the chances of taking gold do not warrant losing the two riders in important road events.

He is however willing to allow them to keep racing during the winter months. “There is nothing to prevent them from doing a certain number of six-day races, as they have done this winter. That has no impact on their jobs on the road,” he said. “However, they must put an end to their world championship campaigns, although the situation is a completely different for the Olympics, which is located at a different part of the season.

Riis and Rasmussen will meet up at the Grant Prix Herning at the weekend. The latter’s best showing to date on the road is probably his three stage wins and the points title in the 2008 Tour de Qinghai Lake. He was also national road race champion in 2007.

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