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Bennati, third in Tour sprinting points, withdraws

7/19/2006

LA TOUSSUIRE, France -- Italian Daniele Bennati has pulled out of the Tour de France, organizers said on Wednesday.

The Lampre rider stepped off his bike 98 kilometers from the finish of the 16th stage, which covers 182 kilometers from Bourg d'Oisans to La Toussuire. At least four other riders also abandoned the race Wednesday.

Bennati was third in the points classification for the
best sprinter, 60 points adrift of green jersey holder Robbie
McEwen of Australia.

On Tuesday, McEwen saw another rival, world champion Tom
Boonen of Belgium, pull out with breathing problems.