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An active day of rest

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Astana's team bus was one of four searched during Monday's Stage 15

Astana's team bus was one of four searched during Monday's Stage 15 (Image credit: AFP)
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French gendarmes arrive to investigate the Astana team's hotel

French gendarmes arrive to investigate the Astana team's hotel (Image credit: AFP)
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Storming in: French gendarmes arrive unannounced

Storming in: French gendarmes arrive unannounced (Image credit: AFP)
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Astana's Marc Biver is interogated by media

Astana's Marc Biver is interogated by media (Image credit: AFP)
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Under fire: Marc Biver delivers the news to the world -

Under fire: Marc Biver delivers the news to the world - (Image credit: AFP)
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French gendarmes talk with an unidentified

French gendarmes talk with an unidentified (Image credit: AFP)
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Sharing the spotlight? No thanks...Italy's Paolo Savoldelli leaves

Sharing the spotlight? No thanks...Italy's Paolo Savoldelli leaves (Image credit: AFP)
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Italy's Paolo Savoldelli gets into a team car

Italy's Paolo Savoldelli gets into a team car (Image credit: AFP)
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Spain's Daniel Navarro is guided by an Astana staff member

Spain's Daniel Navarro is guided by an Astana staff member (Image credit: AFP)
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A team official holds media back as they try to reach

A team official holds media back as they try to reach (Image credit: AFP)
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A shocked Spaniard Daniel Navarro (R) and his teammate and compatriot Antonio Colom

A shocked Spaniard Daniel Navarro (R) and his teammate and compatriot Antonio Colom (Image credit: AFP)
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Belgian body guard Serge Borlee packs Kazakhstan's Alexandre Vinokourov's

Belgian body guard Serge Borlee packs Kazakhstan's Alexandre Vinokourov's (Image credit: AFP)
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A French gendarme searches outside the window

A French gendarme searches outside the window (Image credit: AFP)
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The gendarmes completed a detailed search

The gendarmes completed a detailed search (Image credit: AFP)
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Alexandre Vinokourov's personal body guard Serge Borlee

Alexandre Vinokourov's personal body guard Serge Borlee (Image credit: AFP)
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Police and the media arrive in car loads

Police and the media arrive in car loads (Image credit: AFP)
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A journalists uses whatever free space he can

A journalists uses whatever free space he can (Image credit: AFP)
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Staff from the Palmeraie Hotel are forced to bring rubbish back into the hotel by authorities.

Staff from the Palmeraie Hotel are forced to bring rubbish back into the hotel by authorities. (Image credit: AFP)
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Palmeraie Hotel staff remove rubbish from bins

Palmeraie Hotel staff remove rubbish from bins (Image credit: AFP)
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Shattered dreams: Germany's Andreas Kloden eats with his team

Shattered dreams: Germany's Andreas Kloden eats with his team (Image credit: AFP)
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Astana team coach Mario Kummer (L) talks on the phone

Astana team coach Mario Kummer (L) talks on the phone (Image credit: AFP)
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Night has fallen before the French gendarmes are finished

Night has fallen before the French gendarmes are finished (Image credit: AFP)
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Long day at the office: French gendarmes questioned

Long day at the office: French gendarmes questioned (Image credit: AFP)
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The French gendarmes pack up

The French gendarmes pack up (Image credit: AFP)
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Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme (L) and Amaury Sport Organisation Patrice Clerc

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme (L) and Amaury Sport Organisation Patrice Clerc (Image credit: AFP)
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Christian Prudhomme's had a difficult term at the Tour's helm,

Christian Prudhomme's had a difficult term at the Tour's helm, (Image credit: AFP)
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America's George Hincapie strolls outside on the Tour's second rest day

America's George Hincapie strolls outside on the Tour's second rest day (Image credit: AFP)
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Spain's Alberto Contador relaxes in the gardens of Discovery Channel's team hotel

Spain's Alberto Contador relaxes in the gardens of Discovery Channel's team hotel (Image credit: AFP)
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Meanwhile back in Italy Alessandro Petacchi is delighted after being cleared

Meanwhile back in Italy Alessandro Petacchi is delighted after being cleared (Image credit: AFP)
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He may have missed the Tour de France because of it

He may have missed the Tour de France because of it (Image credit: AFP)

Tales from the peloton, July 25, 2007

Rest - the dictionary defines it as a "period or interval of inactivity, repose, solitude, or tranquility". It seems, however, that in cycling the definition is inversed - as the Tour de France's second of two rest days could be described as chaotic, or turbulent - but certainly not inactive. The activities that would unfold on July 24 were cracked wide open when French paper L'Equipe dropped the bombshell that a blood sample tested at the Châtenay-Malabry laboratory from Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov had tested non-negative on the media outlet's website.

Shortly after, French authorities came-a-knocking at Astana's team hotel - the Palmeraie Hotel in Pau. As authorities settled into a rhythm for a day-long search and questioning at the premises, media vans began to roll in cavalcades toward the hotel. Astana's Marc Biver soon confirmed the dual stage winner's non-negative sample in a press conference, which followed a brief official release from the squad.

All eyes quickly turned to the Tour de France's director Christian Prudhomme and ASO, the company which owns the Tour, president Patrice Clerc. The pair have been clear on their anti-doping stance following the events of 2006, and were quick to invite the entire Astana squad to leave its prestigious Grand Tour - and offer the Switzerland-registered ProTour team quickly accepted.

As Discovery Channel laid about its hotel in a relatively calm environment, and Rabobank's Michael Rasmussen found himself out of the doping spotlight for a change, Prudhomme was quick to say he now has 'regrets' over granting the Kazakhstan-backed squad a wildcard entry into this year's race.

Meanwhile, a few borders away in Italy, Alessandro Petacchi (Team Milram), who was originally slated to contest the Tour, was delighted as the Italian Cycling Federation's disciplinary committee cleared him of suspicion of doping. The Italian National Olympic Committee has recommended a 12 month ban for Petacchi after the rider recorded a non-negative sample from the Giro d'Italia.

With action like that on the official 'rest day', its little wonder the remaining 151 riders are looking forward to returning to the Pyrénées for, well, a rest.

An active day of rest, July 25, 2007

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