Evans Tour De France Defence Over

Rider poisoned?

Robert Whiteby Robert White

In the southern slopes of the Pyrenees Mountains, Cadel Evans saw the Tour de France’s yellow jersey slip away from his grasp.

The 2011 champ all but conceded victory on the 197km mountain stage, Stage 16, losing touch with the yellow jersey 5km from the top of the Peyrsourde climb. He now sits seventh on the overall standings, a full eight minutes and six seconds behind Britain’s Bradley Wiggins.

Evans looked defeated in the burning heat and now trails his younger, American teammate, Tejay van Garderen, who is one spot and 11 seconds ahead of him in the standings. The Australian lost support early in the race when teammate George Hincapie crashed and may now be relegated to a reserve role behind the 24-year-old American.

Thomas Voeckler won stage 16, his second of the tour and second polka dot jersey (best mountain climber) in a week.  He took a one minute lead early in the stage, nine minutes ahead of the peloton, but fell back before making a successful challenge, winning by almost two minutes.

Luxembourg rider Frank Schleck quit the tour yesterday after his team, RadioShack, learnt the International Cycling Union found a banned substance in a urine test taken on July 14.

Third overall at last year’s tour and a highly rated mountain climber, Schleck released a statement today denying he had used a banned substance.  He followed it up with a ridiculous claim- "If this (second) analysis confirms the initial result, I will argue that I have been the victim of poisoning," he said.

The substance in question is a diuretic used to help lose weight and therefore perform better on the arduous mountain climbs. Diuretics can also be hid from tests with increased urination which flushes the substance from the body.