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Tour de France Leader Rasmussen Ousted From Race


Tour de France leader Michael Rasmussen of Denmark has been removed from the race for violating internal rules set by his team.

The 33-year-old rider had won Wednesday's 16th stage and appeared in position to win the race, which ends on Sunday in Paris. But Rasmussen's Rabobank team says he failed to make himself available for drug tests in June. Several riders had been protesting the Danish rider's participation in cycling's premier event.

Rasmussen had finished the 218-and-one-half kilometer stage in six hours, 23 minutes, 21 seconds - 25 seconds ahead of American Levi Leipheimer. Alberto Contador of Spain was third, 35 seconds off the leader.

Rasmussen's departure leaves Contador on top of the overall standings, 1 minute 57 seconds ahead of Australian Cadel Evans.

Also Wednesday, French police arrested Italian cyclist Cristian Moreni after he failed a doping test with high levels of the hormone testosterone.

Moreni, who rides for the Cofidis team, was led away by police shortly after the 16th stage of the Tour de France. His positive test came after the 11th stage of the race last Thursday. The Cofidis team pulled out of the race a short time later.

Also Wednesday, two small explosive devices detonated along the Tour's route in the Pyrenees Mountains. The devices exploded after a warning call from the Basque separatist group ETA. No one was injured.

On Tuesday, Kazakh rider Alexandre Vinokourov and his Astana team were sent home after he tested positive for a banned blood transfusion. Vinokourov has denied cheating.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.

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