Evans leads Tour de France; rider tests positive
FOIX, France ” Kurt-Asle Arvesen of Norway won the 11th stage of the Tour de France on Wednesday, a ride largely overshadowed by the second doping bust to mar the race this year.
Cadel Evans of Australia retained the race leader’s yellow jersey by finishing in the main pack that included his top rivals for the overall title.
Before the stage began, French police detained Spanish cyclist Moises Duenas Nevado after he tested positive for the banned blood-booster EPO following the fourth stage on July 8 in Cholet.
Duenas Nevado, who rides for the Barloworld team and had been 19th overall in the Tour, was immediately suspended by his team and removed from the race.
Police detained Duenas Nevado from a hotel in the town of Tarbes, where his team stayed. He remained in custody Wednesday for questioning, notably about where he may have obtained EPO, a police official said.
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The seven other team riders still in the race started Wednesday’s 11th stage.
“I’m shocked,” Barloworld team manager Claudio Corti said in a statement. “The one thing I will say is that the team is not involved in this story at all, and we’ll take severe action against anyone who damages our credibility and the image of our team.”
Arvesen, of Team CSC, led a sprint among three riders in a 12-man breakaway group that had a lead of about 15 minutes on the main pack when he finished the 104.1-mile trek from Lannemezan to Foix.
The 33-year-old Norwegian national champion edged out Swiss rider Martin Elmiger and Italy’s Alessandro Ballan in a photo finish, for Arvesen’s first Tour stage victory.
Evans, the Silence Lotto team leader and a pre-race favorite in the three-week event, led Frank Schleck of Luxembourg by one second heading into the rolling 11th stage through the Pyrenees foothills.
Evans leads his top rivals by nearly 15 minutes. The Tour ends on July 27 in Paris.
Pierre Bordry, head of the French anti-doping agency, said Duenas Nevado tested positive after the fourth stage on July 8 at Cholet, the site of the race’s first time trial. The doping agency has replaced the International Cycling Union in handling doping controls at the Tour for the first time this year.
International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid said he felt “great anger once again.”
“I just can’t understand when are these guys are going to learn,” McQuaid told The Associated Press by telephone. “If the ‘B’ sample is positive, then all I can say is the guy’s a fool. The net is closing in.”
The 27-year-old Duenas Nevado, riding in his third Tour de France, recorded his best finish of 39th last year. Among his previous achievements were victories in the Regio Tour in 2007 and the Tour de l’Avenir in 2006.
McQuaid said the lure of glory in cycling’s biggest race influences doping.
“The Tour is the biggest event in the world and people will take that risk,” he said. “It’s unfortunate. Throughout the rest of the year we don’t get that many positives in other races.”
Corti said a police search of the rider’s room found “some banned medicines that were absolutely not supplied or prescribed” by team doctor Massimiliano Mantovani.
“I’ve asked the French police to fully investigate the case so that we can fully understand,” Corti said. “He seems to have secretly used banned substances, hiding everything from everybody else in the team.
“It’s terribly disheartening but, because the team is not involved in what has happened, we hope that the whole truth can rapidly emerge, so that we can take the necessary action and that Duenas can fully accept responsibility for what he has done.”
It was the second dose of bad news for Barloworld during the Tour. The team’s leader, Colombian rider Juan Mauricio Soler, pulled out of the race last week after injuring his wrists in a crash during the first stage. Soler was the King of the Mountains champion as the Tour’s best climber last year.
The two previous Tours were also marred by doping, pressing organizers ASO and the UCI to clean up the race. Sponsors, such as longtime German backer T-Mobile, pulled out.
Last year, the pre-race favorite Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan tested positive for blood doping, Italian rider Cristian Moreni tested positive for testosterone, Iban Mayo of Spain was busted for using EPO, and race leader Michael Rasmussen was kicked out just days before the end for lying about his whereabouts to avoid pre-Tour doping tests.
Mayo was cleared by his national federation, but the case is still being contested by the UCI.
In the 2006 Tour, Floyd Landis tested positive for synthetic testosterone after a spectacular comeback ride that set the stage for his victory. The American was later stripped of the title after a long court battle.
Following Tuesday’s rest day, Cadel Evans of Australia took a one-second lead into Wednesday’s 11th stage, just ahead of Frank Schleck of Luxembourg. The 104.1-mile trek from Lannemezan to Foix features one category 1 climb up the Col de Portel.
Associated Press writers Bas Czerwinski and Jerome Pugmire contributed to this report.