Rasmussen and Saxo Bank, a 'media stunt'?
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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rasmussen and Saxo Bank, a 'media stunt'?

by Samuel Morrison at 4:10 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
HTC's Holm doubts Rasmussen will ride in Saxo Bank jersey

Bjarne Riis hiring Michael Rasmussen to help Alberto Contador next year appears as if it is a "media stunt," according to HTC-Columbia's Brian Holm. Dane Rasmussen will generate attention riding for his country's biggest team if hired, but whether he will truly join is doubtful.

"To me it sounds more like a media stunt with the design to receive some exposure and money," Dane Holm told BT. "It is not impossible that he rides for Saxo Bank, but it is Michael himself who has brought the issue up and then Bjarne Riis, when directly questioned, said he would consider it."

Riis announced Tuesday the continuation of Saxo Bank as title sponsor for next year and the arrival of three-time Tour de France winner Contador for the next two years (2011-2012). The Spaniard replaces Andy and Fränk Schleck, who will like ride for a new team based in their home country of Luxembourg.

Contador will bring over some of his key helpers – Daniel Navarro, Benjamin Noval, Jesús Hernández – but it is not clear which ones at this point.

"If Bjarne lacks an auxiliary rider in the mountains, Michael can come too," added Holm. "He can also speak fluent Spanish, se he and Contador can easily communicate."

Team Rabobank pulled Rasmussen from the 2007 Tour de France while he was in the lead for lying about his whereabouts before the race. He had missed three out-of-competition doping controls and subsequently served a two-year ban. He has made a return to racing, but with smaller, second division teams such as Miche.

At 36 years old, Rasmussen is running out of time to race at the top level and, with three years without racing at top level, his ability is unknown.

"If Michael had been 24 and not 36, the case would probably be a little different," said Holm.

"There are other riders who have returned after bans, but there are many other talented riders around who have not had another chance at the top level. Oscar Sevilla, Santiago Botero and Francisco Mancebo, all had to race on the little Rock Racing team in the US.

"It is the team's [HTC's] policy that we are aiming for future riders. We've had a veteran like George Hincapie, brought in last year, who is great professional for the young riders to learn from. But overall, we try to find young talents who will dominate cycling in the coming years and we can shape."

Holm and Riis both admitted in May 2007 to doping while they were professionals with Team Telekom in 1996. Riis admitted he used EPO to win the 1996 Tour de France, the same drug Holm said that he used.

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