LA TOUSSUIRE, France - While Mikael Rasmussen (Rabobank) of Denmark rode to a long solo breakaway win, Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) of Spain regained the race lead, and former race leader Floyd Landis (Phonak) of Murrieta, Calif., badly faltered Wednesday during the 16th stage of the Tour de France.
Robobank's Mikael Rasmussen won Wednesday's Stage 16, the second stage win of his career.
Rassmussen, who began the stage in 35th position, moved into the stage lead after about four miles. He was briefly joined by two riders, but he then pedaled alone to his second career Tour stage win while claiming the 113-mile (182-kilometer) stage from Bourg d'Oisans in five hours, 36 minutes, and 4 seconds.
Carlos Sastre (CSC) of Spain finished second, trailing Rasmussen by 1:41. Pereiro (Caisse-d'Epargne), also of Spain, finished third, trailing by 1:54.
But Pereiro, a previous race leader who trailed Landis by ten seconds entering the stage, now holds a 1:50 margin over Sastre.
Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) of Germany, fifth in the stage, is now third overall, trailing by 1:56. Rasmussen, who also assumed the best climber's jersey, improved to 21st, 20:48 behind.
Landis, who finished third and fourth in the two previous mountain stages, quickly lost the race lead as the riders negotiated the final 11.5-mile Category 1 climb to the small ski resort finish.
Within a few minutes of the stage's final six miles, Landis fell off the back of the main chase pack and abruptly lost chunks of time.
Profusely sweating and coated in salt, Landis eventually placed 23rd in the stage, 10:04 behind. He's now in 11th place overall, 8:08 behind.
Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) of Santa Rosa, Calif., rode for much of the final climb in second position and looked to be gaining on the stage winner. But Leipheimer also faltered and placed ninth in the stage, trailing by 3:24.
Leipheimer remained ninth overall, but now is the leading U.S. rider, trail Pereiro by 7:46.
The second of three severe days in the Alps included an opening 27-mile climb to Col du Galibier, the highest point of the race at 8,681 feet.
The ascent to Col de la Croix de Fer, another beyond category effort, followed 50 miles late before the concluding ascent to the first-time stage finish.
The severity of the stage and another warm day devastated the field for the second straight day. The main field, which included 77 riders, finished 44:01 behind the winner and an additional five riders abandoned the race.
The remaining 147 riders from a starting field of 176 in Strasbourg on July 1, has four remaining stages, including the last mountain stage Thursday in Stage 17.
The final day in the Alps will include five climbs, including the beyond category climb to Col de Jeux-Plane, three miles from the conclusion of the 200.5-kilometer (124.5) mile ride from St. Jean de Maurienne to Morzine.