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“Of course, I have some regrets,” Rasmussen said. “And yes, I do want to do that [return to his former level], but it’s hard to turn things around.”

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Photo: Sven Erik Sode

6-DAYS

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ALEX RASMUSSEN

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RIWAL READYNEZ

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25.11.2014 @ 02:34 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

After four days of intensive and yet some ways pleasant negotiations, CyclingQuotes managed to meet Alex Rasmussen at the Six Days of Ghent last Sunday, discussing his recent performances during the famous track event, planned Hour Record attempt and difficult situation in regards to his career as road cyclist.

 

Despite being reportedly extremely sleepy and exhausted, Rasmussen graciously decided to keep his promise and give us an interview scheduled for after the last day of competition in the Flemish city. Caught while leaving the t’Kuipke velodrome on his way back to the hotel for a well-deserved rest, the 30-year old Dane got off his bike before sitting with me in the riders’ canteen and calmly answering my questions, sipping a Coke and treating me with his broad smile at the same time.

 

 

“We weren’t strong enough.”

 

Pairing up with fellow countryman Marc Hester, just as they did a month ago in Amsterdam, the Danes bounced back from a lot of bad luck which they had experienced on Saturday night, mainly due to Rasmussen’s mechanical problems with his bike. Lining up on the final day at one lap and down on points to three other pairs remaining in contention, couple riding in red Lotto outfits had made a gutsy move and reduced their loses in the opening points race. As a result, Rasmussen and Hester entered the decisive Madison with every chance to battle

Keisse/Cavendish, de Buyst/De Ketele and Lampater/Dillier for a victory in prestigious Ghent Six. Unfortunately, all hopes faded away as Danes completely emptied their tanks halfway through the big chase.

 

“I think we weren’t just strong enough. After half an hour Marc was pretty tired, I was pretty tired, so…” Rasmussen admitted, asked about what had happened in final Madison races both on Saturday and Sunday.

 

Saying that, he turned down suggestion that their loses were partially caused by lack of tactical astuteness, but pointed out to a specificity of a track in Ghent as another reason of their defeat.

 

“It’s also a special track, because it’s so short. I’ve raced here only for a second time, I prefer a normal, big track,” the 30-year old Dane explained.

 

 

“Doing 52 or 53 kilometers an hour is not that hard.”

 

Since Rasmussen had been one of the first riders who added their names to the list of those interested in taking on the Hour Record, it obviously became another important point to be discussed during our short conversation. Even though the athletic Danish cyclist first planned to make his attempt after the Tour of Denmark in August, he has recently announced in the Danish media that he expects it to happen in March. It turns out, however, that it’s still far away from being confirmed.

 

“Yes, if it’s possible,” Rasmussen answered when asked whether he’s going to take up on the Hour Record in March, as he had informed Danish media earlier this month.

 

“If I can get on the UCI blood test, if I can get everything organized… It’s the biggest problem with the Hour Record, getting it organized. Doing the 52 or 53 kilometers an hour is not that hard, but getting an approve at the UCI, getting commissaries, getting anti-doping organized – you have to do all of it by yourself,” he explained.

 

Rasmussen rather bluntly turned down a suggestion that Jens Voigt and a current Hour Record holder, Matthias Brandle (IAM Cycling), somehow managed to get through difficult procedures, stating that they weren’t forced to organize everything by themselves. Still, the 30-year old Dane hopes to get some support from the Continental squad he’s going to ride next season, Trefor – Blue Water.

 

“Yeah [they managed to do that], but I don’t think they organized it by themselves,” Rasmussen stated, suggesting that Voigt and Brandle could have counted on better support from the UCI and their teams, Trek Factory Racing and IAM Cycling respectively.

 

“I hope [to get some support from the team], but it’s still a big event to set up, it’s still gonna cost a lot. I still want to do it and it was them [the team] who wanted me to do it.”

 

 

“Copenhagen is a special event for me.”

 

Rasmussen decided to join the Continental Riwal Platform Cycling Team after he had been

denied a contract extension at the Garmin-Sharp with the end of the 2013 season, despite reportedly having it promised by American squad manager Jonathan Vaughters.

 

Agreeing to step down no less than two levels, the Danish time trialist explained back then that such deal would allow him to race on the road and follow the national track program at the same time, in order to get properly prepared for the Olympic Games in Rio.

 

When Rasmussen abandoned the track program, his lack of professional approach was brought up by Danish media, but the former Olympic silver medalist denied it to be true. Instead, he rather surprisingly explained that he had preferred to ride Six Day events, what wouldn’t be possible while continuing preparations towards Rio 2016.

 

“I wanted to ride the Six Days, and national team.. they don’t want you to do the Six Days. You do the Six Day or you do the national program, you cannot do both.”

 

Asked if riding Six Day events were really more important for him than the national track program and Olympic Games, Rasmussen didn’t need long considerations to admit it at first.

 

“Yeah, at least Copenhagen. The Copenhagen Six. And you cannot do that [ while preparing for the Olympics].”

 

Asked one more time if he was willing to sacrifice his Olympic ambitions for one, relatively small event held on his home soil, the former Garmin-Sharp rider eventually admitted that money was also a factor. As it usually is.

 

“Yeah, but I also want to make some money, that’s the thing. So yes [that’s your answer], but it’s also a special event for me. I’ve been doing it since I was 23 years old.

 

“It’s hard to turn things around.”

 

Reflecting more on his current situation as a road cyclist, Rasmussen revealed that he still has some ambitions, however, it was virtually impossible to figure out in regards to what exactly.

 

Asked if he doesn’t find it somewhat unsatisfying to fight for stage victories in Race Dookoła Mazowsza, being a rider who actually beat the likes of Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo), Tony Martin (Omega Pharma – Quick Step) or Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) few years back [Vuelta a Andalucia, 2010], he still had his trademark little-boy smile written all over his face while giving me an answer.

 

“What’s wrong with that race?,” he asked, as if it really was a rhetorical question. “That’s a good race,” he added. He reluctantly agreed, though, that it’s not exactly the same level as 4 Jours de Dunkerque or Vuelta a Andalucia.

 

Asked whether he does not have regrets in regards to how his career developed in last three years, he was honest enough to admit it.

 

“Of course, I have some regrets.”

 

But does any particular thought, or even constructive plan follow such regrets, you would ask? Despite pushing the former Olympic silver medalist from the track quite hard to find out whether there is still enough spark and motivation in him to resuscitate his road career, no satisfying answer was on offer.

 

Instead, Rasmussen claimed that he still has some ambitions – even though it remained uncertain in regards to what exactly, but also honestly confessed that turning things around from the points he’s currently in will be very difficult.

 

“I have motivation,” Rasmussen said. “And yes, I do want to do that [return to his former level], but it’s hard to turn things around.”

 

“I have this team…” re replied on a suggestion that it will be difficult to impress WorldTour outfits by competing in the races held at the Continental level.

 

 

“It’s all about being good enough.”

 

Even though Rasmussen hoped to shelter himself under Bjarne Riis’ wings at Tinkoff-Saxo after Jonathan Vaughters suddenly had changed his mind and refused the Dane a contract for 2014, he agreed that the Russian team is not a safe haven for his countrymen anymore.

 

Nonetheless, he pointed out that it’s all about results not nationality in cycling and only results can win him a contract with a stronger squad for 2016. Does he still believe that signing a deal with the WorldTour level team remains within his reach?

 

“Not if I don’t win,” he revealingly answered.

 

“That’s true [that Tinkoff-Saxo is not the most obvious option anymore]. But if you’re good enough, you get a contract. It’s not about a nationality, but exactly about being good enough.”

 

When and where the 30-year old Dane wants to post good enough results to impress best cycling squads, remains to be seen. However, he still believes he can be a rider he was once expected to turn himself into.

“I think I still can be that,” Rasmussen concluded.

After such an outburst of confidence, we could only wish him all the best in the future, promising to watch him and his progress very closely.  

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