Contador Powers to 2010 Tour de France Lead after Schleck Experiences Chain Problems
Former yellow jersey holder Andy Schleck (Team Saxo Bank) lost time when chain blocked and fell off.
Andy Schleck lost his yellow jersey as overall leader of the 2010 Tour de France to defending champion Alberto Contador on Monday after suffering mechanical failure at a disastrous moment.
Schleck had accelerated less than 4 kilometers from the top of the big climb of the day, the Port de Bales, but almost immediately the chain got blocked. He then lost his chain, forcing him to stop on the side of the road and wait for assistance.
Afterwards had to force his way back through the field as he attempted to catch up with Contador and the other leaders in the overall competition, but was unable to make up enough time. Contador now holds the yellow jersey by eight seconds from Schleck.
French champion Thomas Voeckler won the day's stage, the second of the Tour de France's four big stages in the Pyrenees, with a solo ride after he escaped from his breakaway group.
Schleck angrily claimed that according to cycling etiquette the riders should have waited for him, which was what happened when he crashed during an early stage where Schleck would have loast 4 minutes or more to the other race favorites if the other favorites had not waited for him.
"Today, you know, everybody is in panic, they see already the Eiffel Tower. I would not have taken advantage of the situation," he said. "It's not up to me ... but for sure these guys don't get the fair play prize today." Yes, Schleck, you surely did wait for alle the other favorites when their chains came of on the Pavés in the stage to Arenberg, didn't you?
Contador said he had not been aware of Schleck's problem until he had gone far past him.
"When I launched the attack I wasn't at all aware of this incident," he said. "When I knew, it was already too late, we were riding far ahead."
It was the second stage victory for Voeckler after another solo win in Perpignan last year. He also held the yellow jersey for nine days in 2004.
He finished Monday's 187.5-kilometer (116.5-mile) 15th stage from Pamiers to Bagneres-de-Luchon in 4 hours, 44 minutes, 51 seconds, ahead of Alessandro Ballan of Italy and Aitor Perez of Spain.
"I was feeling good today, but Voeckler was too strong when he attacked," Ballan said. "I couldn't follow him So I tried to go my pace. I hope this good form is going to help me in the last week and in the races after the Tour."
"It was really hard, really fast. The first 100 km was like a Moto GP. It was really hard between the GC riders. I tried to keep going as hard as I could and tried to come back step by step. I was a little bit more in front and I am feeling better. There were some guys in front of me who were dropped. We'll see what happens tomorrow," former Tour champion Carlos Sastre said after the stage.
World champion Cadel Evans finished 36th Monday and slipped to 22nd overall, 16:16 behind Contador. "I'm a bit tired and sore today. I don't know what's going on," Evans said. "My tape (on a fractured elbow) and stuff fell off. I'm getting skin problems from having so much treatment and having tape holding things together. It's one ailment or the other. I'm still hanging in there. Tomorrow's another day."
Tuesday's 16th stage, the third in the Pyrenees, is one of the toughest of all, taking the riders 199.5 kilometers (124 miles) from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Pau. The course goes over the major climbs of the Col de Peyresourde, Col d'Aspin and Col d'Aubisque, but the highlight will be the first of two crossings of the legendary Col du Tourmalet.
Click here for full 2010 Tour de France stage 15 results.
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