Rasmussen pulled out of Tour

Yellow jersey Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) will not start Stage 17 of the Tour de France Thursday...

Yellow jersey Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) will not start Stage 17 of the Tour de France Thursday morning.

Team manager Theo DeRooy has withdrawn the maillot jaune from the Tour de France. The team fired Rasmussen, who lied to them as to his true whereabouts when he missed his out of competition tests in June. "Wrongly reporting whereabouts is a flagrant violation of UCI rules and is unacceptable," read a statement by the Rabobank team.

DeRooy will not withdraw the entire team, but will allow the riders to choose to start the stage tomorrow.

Rasmussen won Wednesday's Stage 16 finishing at Col d'Aubisque. He put 26 seconds and 35 seconds respectively on Discovery Channel riders Levi Leipheimer and Alberto Contador. Contador has been sitting in second place overall in the general classification and wearing the white jersey of the best young rider.

With Rasmussen gone, Contador will lead the general classification in Thursday's 17th stage, a 188.5 kilometre race from Pau to Castelsarrasin. Contador will start the stage with a one minute 53 seconds lead over Australian Cadel Evans of the Predictor Lotto team, with American Levi Leipheimer now up to third. Leipheimer is two minutes 49 seconds behind Contador.

Rasmussen's withdrawal comes only hours after Italian Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) was pulled from the Tour after he was confirmed as rider who tested positive for testosterone following stage 11 on July 19.

Just one day ago, Alexandre Vinoukourov tested positive for a blood transfusion. In response, his entire Astana team did not start stage 16 Wednesday.

Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for more information as the story develops.

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