By Andrew Hood
There won’t be a late-hour bid to include Michael Rasmussen in the 64th Vuelta a España.
At least Rasmussen isn’t expecting one.
“All I can say regarding the Vuelta is that the team did not register me in time and that Unipublic did not want to make an exception by letting me in,” Rasmussen told VeloNews via e-mail. “They did, though, make exceptions with three Lotto riders that were not on the preliminary start list. Anyways — no Vuelta.”
Rasmussen did not disclose the name of the team.
Back from a two-year racing ban, the Danish climbing specialist was hoping to ride the Spanish tour as his first major event since his controversial exit from the 2007 Tour de France.
Rasmussen’s name didn’t appear in a preliminary start list released by race organizers Unipublic 20 days before the start of the Vuelta, set to begin Saturday in Assen, Holland.
And now it seems it’s too late for Rasmussen to meet obligations in order to start. According to rules, a rider must appear as a starter or as an alternate to be considered eligible to compete in the race.
Concerning Silence-Lotto, two riders — Mickael Delage and Matthew Lloyd — will be starting the Vuelta, according to a team release Sunday. Neither appeared on the preliminary start list provided by Unipublic, still available on its Web page. Charlie Wegelius will start, but he was listed as an alternate as prescribed in the rules.
Officials from Unipublic could not be reached for comment Monday, but race officials said last week they were not targeting Rasmussen, but simply following rules.
Now 35, Rasmussen is trying to make a comeback to competitive cycling following his controversial exclusion from the 2007 Tour, when his Rabobank team fired him while he wore the yellow jersey, just four days from Paris and what appeared to be a likely overall victory.
Rasmussen was the center of a media storm concerning questions about his whereabouts and his availability for out-of-competition tests in the weeks leading up to the start of the 2007 Tour.
Although he never failed a doping control, Rasmussen was later banned for two years by the Monaco cycling federation (where Rasmussen held a license) for missing out-of-competition controls. That ban ended in July.