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Defending champ falls back

BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, France — Cadel Evans' vision of repeating as Tour de France champion vanished under the punishment of the Pyrenees mountains Wednesday, and Bradley Wiggins took another step toward taking the yellow jersey home.

Thomas Voeckler of France won Stage 16 in a breakaway during the big climbs along the Spanish border, and Wiggins kept his rivals at bay.

"It's pretty much the Tour de France over for me," said Evans, 35, who fell from fourth to seventh and trails Wiggins by 8 minutes, 6 seconds. Evans struggled on the last two climbs, citing stomach problems, and lost 4:47 on the day.

Voeckler dominated the 123-mile course from Pau to Bagneres-de-Luchon, leading a breakaway for his second stage win of the Tour (Stage 10).

"Today I did what many young riders dream of doing: leading everyone over all four summits," said Voeckler, who owns the polka dot jersey for best climber. "I knew every kilometer of this course today, and it served me well."

Meanwhile, Frank Schleck, already out after testing positive for a banned diuretic, denied taking any illegal substances and suggested he may have been poisoned. He requested the B sample be tested.

Defending champ falls back 07/18/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 8:25pm]
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