- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 19, 2006

1:12 p.m.

LA TOUSSUIRE, France — Floyd Landis struggled on the second day in the Alps, losing his overall leader’s yellow jersey today and falling all the way to 11th place in the Tour de France.

Landis began the day with a lead of 10 seconds in the three-week race that ends Sunday. The American ended the day more than eight minutes behind new leader Oscar Pereiro of Spain.

The Alps, where seven-time champion Lance Armstrong always separated himself from the field, turned out to be the undoing of a former teammate who was hoping to follow in Armstrong’s footsteps.

Mickael Rasmussen of Denmark easily won the 16th stage after breaking away early in the toughest Alpine test so far. One more stage remains in the Alps, tomorrow.

Pereiro was third in the stage and took an overall lead of 1 minute, 50 seconds over another Spaniard, Carlos Sastre, who was second in today’s grueling stage.

Landis labored on the last ascent and finished 23rd in the stage, 10:04 minutes behind Rasmussen. That left the Pennsylvanian 8:08 minutes behind Pereiro.

Landis is not even the top American anymore. Levi Leipheimer is now ninth overall, 7:46 minutes behind Pereiro.

Rasmussen, who won the polka-dot jersey for the best climber at last year’s Tour, started as the third-best climber but moved up to No. 1 in a stage that included several tough climbs. It was his second career stage win at the Tour.

The stage featured four climbs along the 113-mile trek from Bourg d’Oisans, including two so hard that they defy classification in cycling’s ranking system.

Riders ascended the mammoth Col du Galibier, the highest point of the race at 8,681 feet, just after the start. They endured the tortuous Col de la Croix-de-Fer before the uphill finish.

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