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Rediff.com  » Sports » Tour de France in fresh turmoil

Tour de France in fresh turmoil

July 26, 2007 10:08 IST
Battered and bruised, the Tour de France begins the 17th stage on Thursday minus its leader.

Dane Michael Rasmussen was dramatically dismissed by Rabobank on Wednesday after the Dutch team said he had lied about his training whereabouts in June.

Rabobank team mates, said by a spokesman to be "confused, angry and sad", met late into the evening to determine whether to continue the Tour but a decision is not expected until later on Thursday, before the start in Pau.

Rasmussen's sacking is the latest blow to the Tour's credibility, coming so soon after the announcement of positive dope tests on pre-race favourite Alexander Vinokourov and Italy's Cristian Moreni.

Rabobank said Rasmussen had told them he was in Mexico when he had in fact been in Italy.

The Dutch firm added: "Rabobank is shocked and enormously disappointed that Rasmussen has lied about his whereabouts."

It described the episode as "a dark page" in the history of the team.

Rasmussen was already under a cloud after being dropped from the Danish national team over failing to report his whereabouts in training.

On Wednesday, he was jeered by the crowd at the start but won the stage and extended his overall lead to three minutes 10 seconds.

Now that counts for nothing as the yellow jersey passes, with four days to go, to Spain's Alberto Contador.

Julien Pretot
Source:
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