Click here to see video highlights of stage 17

Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) took today’s stage in Castelsarrasin, sprinting to the line to beat his three breakaway companions.

Jens Voigt (CSC), Markus Fothen (Gerolsteiner), Bennati and Martin Elmiger (Ag2r) gained over 10 minutes over the peloton, who were happy to let an early eight-man break stay away today in order to recuperate from the Pyrenees… and doping scandals.

Britain’s David Millar (Saunier Duval) – still daubed with suncream to protect his skin from an on-going sun allergy – was part of the break earlier in the stage and came fifth, only losing contact with the front group 20km from the finish when the break splintered.

The day’s racing was completely overshadowed by last night’s events, where race leader Michael Rasmussen was withdrawn from the event by his Rabobank squad and Cofidis also withdrew due to team rider Cristian Moreni testing positive for testosterone after stage 11. This means that Briton Bradley Wiggins, who rides for Cofidis, did not start today’s stage.

The stage started in Pau with no rider in the yellow leader’s jersey. After Rasmussen’s removal from the race, Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel) is now the highest placed rider in the overall classification. He wore the white jersey of best young rider, but was awarded the yellow jersey at the end of the stage. He leads second-placed Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) by one minute and 53 seconds.

Tomorrow’s bumpy stage (19) from Cahors to Angouleme should be one for the sprinters. Click here for more details on stage 19.

Click here to see video highlights of stage 17

1 Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) 188.5km in 4-14-04
2 Markus Fothen (Gerolsteiner)
3 Martin Elmiger (Ag2r)
4 Jens Voigt (CSC) all at same time
5 David Millar (Saunier Duval) at 2-41
6 Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step) at 2-43
7 Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) at 3-20
8 Daniele Righi (Lampre-Fondital) at same time
Other British
40 Geraint Thomas (Barloworld) at 9-39
110 Charly Wegelius (Liquigas) at 9-39

1 Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel) in 80-42-08
2 Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) at 1-53
3 Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel) at 2-49
4 Carlos Sastre (CSC) at 6-02
5 Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) at 6-29
6 Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) at 10-18
7 Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile) at 11-36
8 Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) at 12-50
9 Juan Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) at 13-31
10 Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel) at 13-42

Click here to see video highlights of stage 17

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