We had an SMS from Alex tonight to let us know that he will indeed be with Garmin for 2013!
Following is the interview we were about to publish prior to his good news…
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Today was ‘D Day’ for Alex Rasmussen, will JV let him put pen to paper and welcome him back to the Garmin fold? Or will the man from Odense and his manager have to go back to the drawing board to get the talented Dane back in the peloton?
Whilst Leipheimer, Danielson, Zabriskie and Vande Velde will soon be back on the scene having served six months off season suspensions for being involved in the Armstrong blood doping, EPO and testosterone scandal, Rasmussen continues to suffer into his third interrupted season after his well-documented ‘whereabouts’ indiscretions.
The way the UCI has handled the case would be laughable, if it had not been so tragic for the versatile and likeable Dane.
Here’s how he explained his getting in to the mess to us, last summer.
Alex, please start by reminding us of the infringements which lead to this situation.
“When I rode for Saxo Bank in 2009/10 we had our own system for whereabouts, but then in 2011 the system changed to ADAMS (Anti-Doping & Management System) and I didn’t really fully understand it.
“That was what caused the problem when I was riding in Berlin at the six days; I thought that you just updated the information – but you have to ‘submit,’ which I failed to do.
“The second one came about because I was a day or two late submitting what we call our ‘quarters’ – that’s the information regarding where we’re going to be for the next three months.
“The third one was my fault, I went back to Denmark from Girona and I forgot to update – no excuses.”
But wasn’t it the case that you were tested during the Berlin Six Day?
“Yes, I can’t remember if it was once or twice, but I was certainly tested.”
Does the UCI warn you when you are on two infringements?
“No, there’s nothing like that in place, you have to self-check.”
What was your lawyer’s view of your situation, prior to the hearing?
“Under WADA rules, because the UCI were so late in notifying me of the infringement – 10 or 12 weeks instead of two – it should have been discarded.
“When this first broke it was like a bolt from the blue, during the Tour of Britain. Most other sports subscribe to the WADA codes – but the UCI doesn’t.”
Rasmussen was certainly blessed with good genes: his father Claus was a multiple Danish track champion who rode the kilometre at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.
The young ‘Razi’ gained his first medal with bronze in the Danish junior sprint championship in 2000. Within a year he was junior national champion in the sprint, team pursuit and kilometre, and added the senior titles in the latter two for good measure.
Five more national track titles came his way in 2002 along with his first Worlds medal; bronze in the junior scratch championship.
The progression continued over the following seasons, with multiple Danish titles, European and World Cup track podiums, his first win a UiV Cup race – the U23 six day series in 2004 – then European and World scratch titles in 2005.
His Euro Madison title saw him partner Michael Mørkøv to victory.
Road successes began to pile up in 2006 including the Tour of Berlin, where he out sprinted a certain Mark Cavendish, and the Danish under 23 time trial title.
He and Mørkøv also picked up second place in the Six Days of Grenoble.
In the years since his career has continued to gain pace.
His results in that time have included the Danish elite road title, four stages in the Tour of Qinghai Lake, World titles in the team pursuit, Madison, and scratch races, Six Day wins, two stages in the Four Days of Dunkirk, a time trial win over Bradley Wiggins and Tony Martin in the Ruta del Sol, plus the GP Herning.
He narrowly missed out on victory in the final TT of the 2011 Giro to David Millar after puncturing in the last kilometre and won the highly desirable and hard fought GP Philadelphia.
The whereabouts bombshell landed during the 2011 Tour of Britain and Rasmussen was suspended but cleared by the Danish Federation, riding the 2012 Giro.
But the UCI were determined to get their man and appealed the Danish Federation’s decision to CAS.
Rasmussen was at the Danish team’s Olympic altitude training camp in Livigno preparing for the Olympics when the verdict came through that CAS had upheld the UCI appeal on the grounds that whilst the UCI had been remiss with their late notification, it did not affect the fact that there had been three infringements and Rasmussen had to be punished.
And in addition the suspension was period was raised from 12 months to 18.
But the story doesn’t end there. Rasmussen was informed by the UCI in January that he could come back to competition on the 26th of the month.
He was on his way to the Danish team’s training camp for the track Worlds in Minsk when he was notified – without explanation or apology – that this decision was rescinded and he could not in fact resume racing until today.
We spoke to Alex a couple of days ago (Wednesday the 13th) in advance of his suspension being lifted.
What was your last race, Alex?
“The Ster ZLM Toer; I went from there to the Danish Olympic training camp.
“We were going very well, recording a 3:54 in training and I think there’s not much doubt that we’d have been in the medals if I’d been in the team. [The Danish team was 5th in London with a best of 3:57]”
How has your training been going?
“I had a little break to get my head organised after the disappointment of not going to London; but then I got back into training and rode as normal up to the time of the Franco Belge race – which would be when my season should have ended.
“I took another break after that then began training again as if for a normal season. It’s cool in Gerona because there are always guys to train with; even when most of the teams were at San Luis, Down Under or Oman, there were Danish Continental teams down here for training camps and I was able to ride with them.
“By then the teams were back and I was able to train with riders like Greg Henderson and Dan Martin – and the GreenEdge guys, too.
“Gerona has a great cycling community and being part of that makes it easier to train – and there are no days when it’s too cold to train. Not like in Denmark with the snow and it’s just too cold to train.”
A silly question, but do you miss having the team mechanic?
“Not that aspect, but I do miss hanging out at the Service Course w