French rider wins 10th Tour stage

Jamey Keaten
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Cedric Vasseur of France reacts as he crosses the finish line to win the 10th stage of the 94th Tour de France cycling race between Tallard and Marseille, southern France, Wednesday, July 18, 2007. (AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski)

MARSEILLE, France ” Cedric Vasseur became the first French rider to win this year at the Tour de France, and Michael Rasmussen of Denmark kept the overall lead in the 10th stage on Wednesday.

Vasseur, who rides for the Quick Step team, narrowly outsprinted four other cyclists in a breakaway group to cross in 5 hours, 20 minutes, 24 seconds. It was his first win at cycling’s biggest race since 1997.

Rasmussen finished safely in 30th place. He is 2:35 ahead of second-place Alejandro Valverde and 2:39 in front of Iban Mayo.

The latest in a string of doping revelations to cloud the sport over the past year emerged Wednesday, when the German cycling federation announced T-Mobile team rider Patrik Sinkewitz, who competed in the Tour, tested positive for high levels of testosterone before the race began.

After colliding with a fan on Sunday, Sinkewitz dropped out of the Tour. He had tested positive for testosterone on June 8 in a surprise doping test.

T-Mobile, which has enacted some of the toughest anti-doping policies among pro teams, temporarily suspended Sinkewitz. Two German public television stations said they were dropping their coverage “until further notice.”

Sinkewitz was in a Hamburg hospital being treated for facial injuries, including a broken nose, and other injuries from the crash. A team official said Sinkewitz was having surgery on his jaw.

Vasseur beat Sandy Casar of France by inches across the finish line, and Swiss rider Michael Albasini was third in the 142.6-mile stage took the Tour from Tallard to Marseille. Vasseur, Casar, Albasini and two other cyclists finished in the same time.

Rasmussen was 10:36 behind Vasseur on Wednesday.

Vasseur, who turns 37 in August, says this year will be his last in the sport.

“I think I can leave cycling with my head held high,” he said. “I am happy to offer France the first win on the Tour.”

Vasseur was the third Quick Step rider to win a stage this year. Gert Steegmans won the second stage and Tom Boonen took the sixth.

In the finishing straight, Vasseur appeared to take the four other riders by surprise when he sprinted past them by riding close to the barriers on one side.

“I didn’t make many tactical mistakes, I rode well,” Vasseur said. “I took advantage of a little hole that opened up on my right, then I had to push right up to the line.”

The 11th stage Thursday takes cyclists on a mostly flat, 113.4-mile ride along the Mediterranean from Marseille to Montpellier.