Contador in yellow as Schleck suffers untimely mechanical at the Tour. France’s Voeckler wins the stage.

2010 Tour de France, stage 15. Thomas Voeckler wins

2010 Tour de France, stage 15. Thomas Voeckler wins

An untimely dropped chain cost Andy Schleck the yellow jersey at the Tour de France on Monday, as the Luxembourger gave up the race lead to Alberto Contador.

On the final climb, the hors categorie Port de Balès, Schleck and his Saxo Bank team had whittled the lead group down to just the five GC leaders, when, just 3km from the summit, Schleck suffered his mechanical. Contador, Samuel Sanchez and Denis Menchov sped off. Sanchez led the dare-devil 21km descent and the three finished with enough gap for the defending champ to take the lead by about 8 seconds.

Up front, French national champion Thomas Voeckler (BBox Bouygues Telecom) scored a fifth stage win for this country in this edition of the Tour, surviving out of a long breakaway.

Afterwards Schleck hit out immediately at Contador for not showing “fair play.”

“In the same situation I would not have taken advantage,” said Schleck, who had held the yellow jersey since taking it from Australia’s Cadel Evans on
stage 9.

“I’m not the jury, but for sure those guys wouldn’t get the fair play award from me today.”

Schleck had to hold his anger back as he swapped the yellow jersey for the white jersey for the race’s best-placed rider aged 25 or under.

And he has promised to take his revenge on Contador swiftly.

“I’m really disappointed. My stomach is full of anger, and I want to take my revenge,” he said.

“I will take my revenge in the coming days.”

Contador said the 30-seconds he picked up will not determine the overall winner of this Tour.

“I don’t believe you can win the Tour with this. I know it’s delicate situation, I know there are complicated parts, but at the moment I attacked I didn’t know what happened, I knew after, I was already in the lead. At the stage in Spa, I told teammates they had to stop, all the riders would do the same. On the cobblestones, no one stopped at the crash there. Anyway, 30 seconds won’t change the race, if you win or not,” he said. 

“I understand he’s disappointed but what’s important to me is that I took time off him. My goal is still to win the yellow jersey in Paris,” said Contador.

“Today Andy finally took his responsibilities (and attacked). But in any case I was ready to attack myself.”


Big climbs, big descents.

The stage featured four tough climbs, the toughest of which, the HC Port de Bales, summitted 21.5km from the finish. Success would require climbing and descending skills.

The day started quickly in sunny and warm conditions. The first half of the stage was dominated by the battles for sprinter and KOM points and the peloton covered 47.5 km in the opening hour. Early on, the aggression created a split in the field that put Contador and his Astana mates 10 seconds up on the group containing Schleck. But Saxo Bank quickly brought the groups back together.

It wasn’t until more than 50km into the stage that a real breakaway formed, when BBox Bouygues Telecom’s Nicholas Vogondy took a solo flyer and was joined by a mob of 31 others, who hammered out a 10-second gap but were absorbed in less than 10k.

The break

  • Johan Van Summeren (Garmin – Transitions), 31st at 29:27
  • Thomas Voeckler (BBox Bouygues Telecom), 69th at 1:17:59
  • Alessandro Ballan,(BMC Racing Team), 95th, at 1:45:34
  • Aitor Perez Arrieta (Footon-Servetto), 97th at 1:48:08
  • Luke Roberts (Team Milram), 117th, at 2:05:15
  • Sébastien Turgot (BBox Bouygues Telecom),131st at 2:11:31
  • Lloyd Mondory (Ag2r La Mondiale), 134th at 2:12:39
  • Serguei Ivanov (Katusha Team), 141st at 2:18:10
  • Brian Vandborg (Liquigas-Doimo), 147th at 2:21:04
  • Francesco Reda (Quick Step), 168th at 2:44:30

The next group had more staying power. At the 90km mark, Luke Roberts (Milram) and Brian Vandborg (Liquigas) cranked off the front and were soon joined by eight others. The group labored out to a 1:30 gap at 95km into the stage and had four minutes at the base of the Col de Portet-d’Aspet and nearly 8 minutes at the summit, as the peloton took its sweet time on the day’s second categorized climb.

The Port de Balès

The break carried a nearly 10-minute gap into the final climb, while Saxo Bank’s Stuart O’Grady powered the front of the pack. In the opening kilometers of the climb, Schleck enjoyed the company of six teammates at the front, while Contador happily sat in behind the race leader.

The day’s climbs

  • The Côte de Carla-Bayle, Cat. 4, 3.1 km, averages 4.1 percent. Summits summits at 30km.
  • The Col de Portet-d’Aspet, Cat. 2, 5.8km, averages 6.8 percent. Summits at 105km.
  • The Col des Ares, Cat. 2, 6.1km, averages 4.7 percent. Summits at 126.5km.
  • The Port de Balès, HC, 19.3km, averages 6.1 percent. Summitts at 166km.

Up front, the 10-man break was soon half its previous size. The survivors were van Summeren, Ivanov, Ballan, Arrieta and Voeckler, with Vanborg yo-yoing. With 8km of climbing left, Voeckler attacked. Ballan and van Summeren chased, but Voeckler began pulling away. Meanwhile the dwindling yellow jersey group had trimmed Voeckler’s gap to 6 minutes halfway up the climb.

Saxo burns matches, then Schleck accelerates

After O’Grady pulled off, Saxo’s Jens Voigt hammered for several kilometers, then pulled off for his teammate Chris Anker Sorensen to take a pull.

Less than 4km from the summit, Sorensen gave up the ghost and the race leader took the front. And the group was briefly trimmed down to just the five top men on the GC: Schleck, Contador, Samuel Sanches, Denis Menchov and Jurgen Van Den Broeck.

Armstrong, Leipheimer and Hesjedal fought their way back to the group in between Schleck’s attacks.

Disaster for Schleck

Schleck launched yet another attack when he dropped his chain,  delaying him almost 20 seconds while he frantically tried to get moving again. Contador, Sanchez and Menchov rolled past as Schleck lost ground.

Once he got going, Schleck had to fight his way past Leipheimer, Vinokourov and Gesink to get back within sight of the Contador group.

The yellow jersey came over the summit 13 seconds behind Contador and started in on one of the toughest descents of the Tour.

Sanchez pulled out all the stops, descending like a mad man with Menchov and Contador in his wake. Although Schleck was aggressive, he fell 25, and then 30 seconds behind on the descent. He was joined by Van den Broeck, who took some hard pulls, and Vinokourov, who did not.

Way up front, Voeckler was riding with similar abandon, almost overshooting two corners.

The finish

Voeckler had plenty of time to celebrate his win. His breakaway mate Perez outsprinted Ballan for second. Then Roberts and Reda led in the Contador group at 2:50 behind Voeckler.

And then the count began.

Schleck chased hard but came in 39 seconds behind Contador, to give up his jersey by 8 seconds.

Voeckler almost quit

The 31-year-old Voeckler is perhaps best known for the 10 days he spent in the yellow jersey in 2004.

But he showed style and determination after attacking his breakaway group late in the climb to Bales to go on and claim his third career Tour de Framce stage win.

“I worked hard for this stage win,” said Voeckler, who admitted he almost abandoned the race last week.

“It has been a really difficult race for me and, if there had been crosswinds on (the stage during) July 14 instead of a headwind, I would almost certainly have pulled out.

“In the past three days I’ve been feeling much better.”

Up next

At nearly 200km, stage 16 promises to be one of the toughest of this year’s Tour. It crosses all four of the most famous passes in the Pyrénées — the Cat. 1 Peyresourde and Aspin, and the hors category Tourmalet and Aubisque — and includes 15,000 feet of actual climbing.

Adding to the historical importance of the stage is this being the 100th anniversary of the Tour first crossing these four peaks. The last time a Tour stage ran from Luchon to Pau, in 1964, Federico Bahamontes went solo over the Aubisque and came into Pau with a two-minute lead over a 13-man chase group.

More on stage 16.

Click here for Complete Video Coverage of 2010 Tour

Complete results

Quick results:


  • 1. Thomas Voeckler
  • 2. Perez
  • 3. Ballan

Overall standings

  • 1. Alberto Contador (Astana)
  • 2. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) at :08
  • 3. Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskati) at 2:00

Best Young Rider (GC)

  • 1. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank)

Points leader

  • 1.

Team GC leader

  • 1.

KOM leader

  • 1.

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  • bladedspokes
    Contador just lost any respect he might have had with anyone. What an ***hole...
  • NickM
    Love how this article turned into a Lance piece.....Anyway, Its a race, deal with it. Does a running back stop and wait for the guy that missed his tackle? No. Does a batter stop running the bases and wait for the out fielder to throw the ball after he has an error? No. It sucks that AS's chain popped off, but tough luck, it happens. And no, I can't stand Contador at all, he's a giant Vag just so we are clear on that. But he didn't cheat to win, he didn't cause the chain to fall off, he was simply in a competition and he competed.
  • Nice
  • Sad for cycling
    Alberto Contador was, is and always will be a scumbag. Look at all of his tours and he is a scumbag in every one of them. I hope anyone but Contador wins the Tour.
  • Old Geezer
    Look's like a "wake up" call for young Mr. Schleck. Will be interesting to see if his stomach full of anger can convert to gaining back time on Contador. As for Lance, he is toast... the whole Radio Shack team seems in disarray. No one seems to be helping Levi. I guess if I was facing a possible jail term....even the Tour might seem insignificant.
  • Troy
    Andy did a great job of fighting back! My complaint is the camera motorcycles pulling the Contador group along. I appreciate the pictures but the Contador group used the motorbikes not for 25k. This group of ave them 10 seconds in the lower slopes.
  • markwarlen
    Contador's attack on the yellow jersey with mechanical problem betrays Contador's fear
    of his rival and shows lack of sportsmanship.
  • Helsable
    The TdF is not a charity ride, it is THE PREMIER BIKE RACE and why should Contador wait on somebody who mis-shifted. This was not a mechanical failure, it was biker error.
    Please explain to me: while Contador stops to wait for Schleck, Sanchez and Menchov and all the rest are allowed to go on and gain time? Is there something wrong with this picture?
  • Beaufort
    This Tour will not be decided by 30 seconds. Andy has been playing cat and mouse instead of riding his own race. The dropped chain will now cause Andy to ride his own race as he should have already been doing. The end result will be Alberto winning his 4th consecutive Tour. Oh, sorry, I meant to say it should be his 4th consecutive Tour. Andy is going to learn a lesson about arrogance.
  • Terry Laing
    what if Schleck's 'mechanical' was self-induced ? - he tried too ambitious a chain throw,not impossible in the
    heat of the moment,even for a pro.
  • gunger
    there can be no dispute if everyone watches the video replay carefully... at the exact moment that schleck slips his gear and his rear wheel pops off the ground, contador turns his head to his right to check who's following the attack. when contador turns his head back towards schleck, all he sees is schleck slowing down and as far as he's concerned, schleck may have popped or cracked during the effort. there's no way for contador to know that there was a mechanical until someone points it out to him after the race and he watches the same video. for all those jumping on contador for this particular circustance, he cannot be blamed and i am in full defense of what he did. for schleck to attack contador for what he did, i would not blame him at all... that is, until schleck also watches the same video and realizes that contador did turn his head at that moment and could not have know about the mechanical. to compare this vs anything else that contador may have done in the past or other riders would be unfair. this is an isolated incident in the heat of the battle on the final climb of the day. he was never my hope to win, but i still concede that contador is in yellow, fair and square, and he deserves it... let's move on to the rest of what will happen in an exciting race!
  • Crazycorso
    I just wanna say in the Tour of 03 Lane was fighting Ullrich, with Ullrich 7" behind, Lance had a crash in the last mountain stage and ullrich waited for Lance and for sure costing his Tour victory. That was much more HONORABLY act.
  • Tour lover forever !
    I can remember a time in cycling history when as great as Eddy Merxx is, he refused to wear the Yellow Jersey the next day when one of his chief rivals crashed out while wearing Yellow, he then went out the next day, won the stage and earned the Yellow Jersey. Now that is class!!! Barring any unforseen accidents AC will probably win this year's tour, however, he had an opportunity to show a champions class, but he failed today! Those that say Sanchez and Menchov would have gained time on AC had he slowed down are correct, but neither one could have gained enough to take the yellow or win the tour because of their inability to beat AC in the TT. The history of the Tour is chocked full of acts of heroism and class if you care to read them. Pro cycling is not track & field, nascar, or tiddly winks, it stands alone as one of the most difficult and challenging sports an athlete can participate in. Let's all hope the current pros will do their best to preserve it's proud history of sportsmanship and fair play. The yellow jersey wearer does command a certain amount of privilige that the rest of the peleton should respect.
  • Warren Davis
    Alberto Contador Andy Schleck "My Chain Slipped" parody
  • Backwheel
    I believe AC "honored" the yellow jersey. He took it off a pretender. You guys really need to get a grip about the honorable thing and respecting the jersey. The minute they all started doping (no reference to Lance here) that respect was gone.

    He should wait, he shouldn't wait. He could tell he had a problem, he couldn't tell. Ok, let's go with this, he saw the chain come off. He didn't care, he saw an opening and took it. Andy is all pissed now, so he will kick AC's butt for disrespecting the yellow jersey, he will get it back, and set the tour record for time trialing. Even if Contador was stupid enough to wait for him, he would be delaying the inevitable. AC can't time trial and he won't get 2 minutes. Done.
  • Philychzstk
    There is a fair amount of respect that is shown throughout the Tour and in cycling but it is not Contador's obligation to wait for any rider when their bike is not functioning properly. Maybe its the mechanic who should be criticized, who is an important part of any team more than blaming other riders for not waiting. Racers cannot wait for everybody, where was everyone when Lance had his wreck and had to switch bikes?
  • Campeon
    Where does the waiting for the yellow jersey comes from?. Is a tradition created by the fact that the leader is worth the respect of the peloton. Just like kings used to be the best warriors and therefore were respected by their friends and feared by their opponents. The yellow jersey must be honored first and foremost by the rider wearing it. The fact is that AS do not have a strong team in the mountains and he did not want to expand his lead on the other riders when he could. You create your own luck by being isolated and surrounded by competitive seasoned professionals all feeling that you are in disadvantage and not honoring the jersey by honoring your cycling gifts. It really looks like TDF karma on AS for not riding at his very best. At the end the best rider always wins........
    I think this just confirms what we have already known, even in his post-race comments, Contador is about one person.....Contador. Clearly sportsmanship is not his bag. After capitalizing on the misfortune of a rider, I thought his true personality came out when he said, "Andy finally accepted his responsibility and attacked, and I just responded." I guess the unwritten rule that they yellow jersey attacks is good enough for Alberto, but the unwritten rule to not capitalize on a mechanical failure or a fall does not. Must be nice to pick and choose. Now he ends up in yellow....but that is more descriptive of his character than his achievement so far......
  • Edward
    Hhahahaa is ovious that you only see what convinient for you to see. People like you made politician proud of their work
  • Edward
    These is the same folks that don't put on they base miles and then go to a century ride ending up cracking, cramping and don't even do a crit. Im going to ask you smart guys one question. Did andy waited on the GC contenders after he came out of the coblestones? No right. The only reason why he was in yellow is because that chicken move that him and his flat machine Cancelara put on the rest of the field on stage 3. Alberto had 42 second on him at the Prologue. Did you forgot that? Seconds that Andy wouldn't never close on Conti if all of the misfortune of stage 3 wouldn't happen. But this 16 to 18mph people get in and opinion only what is convnient to them.
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