Valverde knocked out of Tour de France

PARIS -- Spaniard Alejandro Valverde will miss the Tour de France as a result of the two-year suspension imposed on him in Italy, his Caisse d'Epargne team said on Tuesday.

Valverde, the world's top-ranked rider, was banned by Italy's Olympic Committee (CONI) last month but the punishment only applies within their borders.

CONI said blood samples he gave at a doping control when last year's Tour entered Italy matched DNA from code-named bags of blood discovered in Spain's Operacion Puerto doping investigation, launched in 2006.

The 2009 Tour passes through Italy, in the Val d'Aosta region, on July 21. "Under these circumstances ... we are
obliged to announce Alejandro Valverde will not be at the start," Caisse d'Epargne said in a statement.

Valverde appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport this month but his team said the CAS ruling could not be made before the Tour starts in Monaco on July 4, forcing them to rule him out of the world's biggest stage race.