In one sense at least, Tour director Christian Prudhomme knew exactly how Michael Rasmussen felt this morning. As the Dane woke to find his Rabobank team hotel besieged by reporters and photographers, Prudhomme arrived in the Tour start village at Montpellier to find the world's sporting press waiting for him and waiting for answers about Rasmussen.
Prudhomme finally appeared to face a thick scrum of cameramen and journalists shortly after eleven o' clock. He made this statement:
"Last night I spoke to the manager of Rabobank, Theo de Rooij. He confirmed to me that Michael Rasmussen did indeed receive an official warning from the UCI on June 29, for failing to provide adequate whereabouts details for out of competition tests on the 8 th of May and the 28th of June of 2007. The letter confirmed that a third "no-show" would be considered tantamount to a positive test.
I think it's legitimate to pose a few questions at this point. Why now, when the warning dates from June 29? Why did [Danish Cycling Federation president] Jesper Worre wait until the evening of 19 th of July, in the middle of the Tour, with Rasmussen in yellow, to reveal information that was available to him at the end of June? Why didn't he go public on July 30th, on July 1 or July 2 or at the very least before the Tour? Why did he talk late yesterday evening about the world championships and the Olympics, which will take place respectively at the end of September and next summer respectively? Why so early, why so late? Who's the winner here?
"Here are the tests Rasmussen has taken in the past few weeks, under the auspices of the UCI: a blood test on Saturday 30 June, the day before the Danish national championships, organised by the Danish Federation and in which Michael Rasmussen took part without posing the Danish Federation any problems; a blood test on July 5, with all the other teams and riders at the Tour de France; finally, another blood test last Tuesday morning in Val d'Isere. On all three occasions, Rasmussen was deemed fit to start. They were also urine tests after the stages on the 15th, 17 th, 18th and 19th of July. We're still waiting for the results of those tests, which, as you know, are sent to the World Anti-Doping Agency, to the UCI, to the team and the riders, but never to the organisers of the Tour.
"Should a warning now be considered tantamount to a positive test, since the Danish Federation has decided that Rasmussen is no longer considered worthy of representing them in the world championships or the Olympics? Is the UCI now going to release a list of all the riders who have at one time or another received an official warning? What elements does the Danish federation have at its disposition to justify this decision? Is there any additional information which would explain this decision - information they only received after July 1, because on that date Rasmussen took part in his national championships, organised by the Danish Federation and its director Jesper Worre? What are these elements? Without them, Rasmussen will be at the start of today's stage."