Rasmussen wins Stage 16 on tumultuous day

Updated: July 25, 2007, 9:47 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

GOURETTE, France -- Michael Rasmussen won Wednesday's 16th stage of the Tour de France and extended his overall lead as the race continued in the wake of doping revelations.

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The Danish cyclist crossed the finish alone after the 135.8-mile ride from Orthez to Gourette-Col d'Aubisque, the toughest ride in the Pyrenees this year.

Discovery Channel Team riders rounded out the top three finishers, with Levi Leipheimer of the United States in second, 26 seconds behind, and Alberto Contador of Spain in third, 35 seconds back.

Both lost time against Rasmussen as the Dane broke away from their three-man group in the last half-mile, finishing in 6 hours, 23 minutes, 21 seconds.

Rasmussen, who has faced doping suspicions this year, extended his lead to 3:10 against Contador, who is second, and to 5:10 against Cadel Evans of Australia, in third. The three-week event ends in Paris on Sunday.

"I am one step closer," said Rasmussen, who won Stage 8 in Tignes.

Standings after Stage 16

Cyclist
Time
x-Michael Rasmussen (Denmark)
76:15:15
Alberto Contador (Spain)
+3:10
Cadel Evans (Australia)
+5:03
Levi Leipheimer (U.S.)
+5:59
Carlos Sastre (Spain)
+9:12
Haimar Zubeldia (Spain)
+9:39
Alejandro Valverde (Spain)
+13:28
Kim Kirchen (Luxembourg)
+14:46
Yaroslav Popyvich (Ukraine)
+16:00
Juan Mauricio Soler (Colombia)
+16:41
Mikel Astarloza (Spain)
+16:52
x-Rasmussen has been removed by Rabobank. An updated list is not expected until after Thursday's stage.

Before the start, dozens of riders had staged a silent protest against the continuing doping scandals -- and some fans booed Rasmussen. He was kicked off the Danish national team last week for missing several drug tests before the Tour.

But there was more doping news hanging over the Tour on Wednesady, as Italian rider Cristian Moreni's positive test for testosterone prompted the withdrawal of his entire Cofidis team. Police were searching his hotel, and French TV showed police officers stationed on the premises.

Police detained Moreni, apparently for questioning, and drove him away. France has tough laws against trafficking in doping products.

Between 20 and 25 officers were also carrying out a raid at the hotel where the Cofidis team was staying Wednesday evening, said Cmdr. Pierre Bouquin, a spokesman for the gendarmerie. Results from the raid in the town of Lescar weren't expected until Thursday.

The revelation came a day after Alexandre Vinokourov and his Astana team were disqualified because he tested positive for a banned blood transfusion.

Meanwhile, Spanish officials said at least one small explosive device detonated along the route as the race nosed into northern Spain. Spanish media said the blast or blasts were preceded by a call in the name of Basque separatist group ETA, but Spain's Interior Ministry said it could not confirm that. No injuries were reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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