Michael Rasmussen comeback

Renowned Danish climbing specialist Michael Rasmussen, who was forced out of the 2007 Tour de France while wearing the yellow jersey makes a less than ideal comeback to racing this week in Argentina’s Tour de San Luís with the modest Italian Miche Silver Cross team.

Rasmussen, now 35, was hoping for a warmer welcome in his return to the pro ranks following his controversial two-year racing ban last summer, but said he’s found top teams cautious about signing him.

“I had hoped to return to a higher level than this, but there is so much hypocrisy in cycling now, it was not possible,” Rasmussen told the Danish daily Politiken. “I hope to return to the ProTour, but I know many teams don’t want to touch me because of my ongoing troubles with the UCI.”

The former mountain bike world champion all but had the Tour sewn up when Rabobank fired him. Questions about his whereabouts in the weeks and months before the start of the Tour and his availability for out-of-competition testing reached a breaking point just days from Paris.

Rasmussen never tested positive, but the inconsistencies in his version of events leading up to the Tour led many to doubt his credibility. The Monaco cycling federation handed down a two-year ban, which ended last summer.

After missing out on a the opportunity to race the Vuelta a España last year with a small Spanish team, Rasmussen finally competed in the Vuelta a Chihuahua in October, where he won the opening prologue and wore the race leader’s jersey for two days before settling on sixth overall.

Throughout the winter, Rasmussen was in contact with several European-based teams, but fell short of securing a contract with a top team that would allow him back into the most important races.

Rasmussen has joined his Miche continental team teammates for the Tour de San Luís, which began yesterday and runs through Jan. 24.