I'll fight back, pledges sacked Rasmussen

Jul 27, 2007 - 12:20 PM By Kirstie Lovewell Special to PA SportsTicker

CAHORS, France (Ticker) - Michael Rasmussen has vowed not give up on his cycling career despite being withdrawn from the Tour de France and sacked by his team, Rabobank.

The Danish rider, who was leading the race at the time of his dismissal, was removed after winning Stage 16 on Wednesday amid claims from Rabobank that he "lied about his whereabouts" in the period leading up the Tour.

The decision to sack Rasmussen came after he was allegedly seen in Italy when he told the cycling's governing body, the UCI, that he was in Mexico.

Having also recently been dropped by the Danish cycling team in a row over drugs testing, Rasmussen's success on the Tour had been overshadowed by events off it.

But the rider is refusing to give up on the sport and is determined to clear his name. "I'm very, very down," Rasmussen told Danish newspaper Politiken. "I still can't understand what has happened. "But I've had time to gather my thoughts and I can guarantee I'm not finished as a cyclist.

"I can't say any more about how the future is going to turn out, but I'm certain I will get a job even though I've been sacked by Rabobank."

Rasmussen also revealed he has contacted his legal team about the dismissal after claiming Rabobank never officially told him he had been fired.

"On a hectic Wednesday I was told that I'd been suspended but not that I'd been sacked," he continued. "I've since read that in the media. But my lawyer is now handling that matter."

The timing of his removal from the race could not have been worse, according to the Dane.

Rasmussen was wearing the yellow jersey at the time with a three-minute lead over his nearest challenger, Alberto Contador, following Stage 16.

And he admitted he felt like he had won the Tour before news of his withdrawal by Rabobank was announced. "In recent weeks, I've proved I'm one of the best cyclists in the world. And at the same time I am one of the strongest mentally in the field," he continued. "I felt that I'd won the Tour de France when I crossed the line first in Col d'Aubisque on Wednesday.

"Then I really had the race in my hands. But now that victory has been stolen from me. And it's no secret I'm furious at Rabobank's manager, Theo de Rooy. The decision was taken by him and him alone. But I don't want to go into further details about what happened, because that's something my lawyer is now dealing with. I know I was late in giving information about my whereabouts. I've been punished for that with a fine and warning. But that it should lead to such drastic measures as those which have now been taken is out of all proportion."






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