Voeckler Wins Stage 15 of Tour; Contador Grabs Yellow Jersey
Thomas Voeckler (BBox Bouygues Telecom) has won Stage 15 of the 2010 Tour de France.
Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) has won Stage 15 of the 2010 Tour de France. The Frenchman soloed away from four breakaway companions to win the mountainous, 187.5-km ride from Pamiers to Bagneres-de-Luchon in 4:44:51. Alessandro Ballan (BMC) outsprinted Aitor Perez Arrieta (Footon) for second at 1:20. Defending champion Alberto Contador (Astana) has taken the maillot jaune from Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank).
It was a sunny, warm day in the Pyrenees. The peloton started at a fast pace that discouraged breaks. Not until after 50 km did one form. More than 30 riders were in it, which prompted the peloton to close it down. The next escape consisted of 11 riders: Johan Van Summeren (Garmin), Voeckler and Sebastien Turgot (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Ballan, Arrieta, Luke Roberts (Milram), Lloyd Mondory (Ag2r), Sergei Ivanov (Katusha), Brian Vandborg (Liquigas), and Francisco Reda (Quick Step). The break led the bunch by 1:30 at 95 km, four minutes at the base of the Category 2 Col de Portet d'Aspet (about 100 km), and about eight minutes at the summit (105 km). The fugitives' advantage maxed out at 10 minutes at the base of the day's final climb, the Hors Categorie Port de Bales.
Saxo Bank led the field onto the Port de Bales. Four km from the summit, Schleck took over from his teammates. Four other riders were with him--Contador, Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel), Denis Menchov (Rabobank), and Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma). Schleck began to attack, but the group covered his moves. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin) and Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer (both from RadioShack) fought their way back to the group.
Ahead, attrition took its toll, and the break was reduced to five members--Voeckler, Ballan, van Summeren, Arrieta, and Ivanov. Voeckler attacked. Ballan and Arrieta followed, but the Frenchman drew away from them. He led the bunch by six minutes at the summit.
In the maillot jaune group, Schleck continued to attack. His chain came off, and Contador and Sanchez violated one of cycling's unwritten rules by attacking. The yellow jersey lost 20 seconds putting his chain back on and was 0:13 behind Contador at the summit.
Schleck chased furiously, but the trio, particularly Sanchez descended recklessly. At one point, the yellow jersey was only 0:11 behind Contador and Sanchez, but the pair drew away from him. Schleck crossed the line with Van Den Broeck and Alexander Vinoukourov (Astana). He finished 0:39 after Contador and ceded the yellow jersey.
In the overall, Contador leads Schleck by 0:08 and Sanchez by 2:00. Stage 16 will probably not change this state of affairs, but then again, Stage 15 was not expected to produce a yellow jersey change. The 199.5-km ride from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Pau will feature the Category 1 Cols de Peyresourde and d'Aspin and the Hors Categorie Cols du Tourmalet and d'Aubisque. The last of the day's climbs, however, is 61 km from the finish. Look for a break composed of no hopers to stay away until the finish. Who will be in it? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!