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Rasmussen wins Stage 16 on tumultuous day

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.


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.


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.