Frank Schleck (CSC) and Floyd Landis (Phonak) were crowned the new kings of L’Alpe d’Huez after respectively winning the stage and taking the yellow jersey.
Schleck jumped away from Damiano Cunego two kilometres from the finish after being part of a 25-rider breakaway that formed after 30kms of the stage. Landis pulled on yellow after dropping Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) on the slopes of cycling’s most famous climb. Landis finished fourth on the stage, 1-10 behind Schleck but gained time on major rivals Cadel Evans (Davitamon) and Denis Menchov (Rabobank) after dropping them on the packed slopes of the L’Alpe.
Only Andreas Kloden was able to stay with Landis, responding to several of Landis’ attacks. Landis now leads Periero by ten seconds, with Cyril Dessel (Ag2r) at 2-02 and Denis Menchov at 2-12. Carlos Sastre is fifth at 2-17 and Kloden is sixth at 2-29. Cadel Evans lost 1-39 to Landis and so dropped to seventh overall at 2-56.
Landis was happy to be back in yellow but promised he would continue to ride conservatively.
?Bike racing is a tactical game and my way of thinking is to save my team as long as possible so I?m going to continue riding conservatively,? he said.
?I think it?s a sign of confidence in my team and if I don?t win a stage but go home with the yellow jersey, I?ll be very, very happy.?
“I felt good today and so didn?t feel I needed to put time into my rivals.
I expected Kloden to be good while the other guys had a bad day but I know it could happen to me as well. I gained time and if I can keep gaining time things will get easier but the next two stages will be decisive.”
As expected the tough climbs made most of the peloton suffer. World champion Tom Boonen (Quick Step) retired after 130km, on the slopes of the Lautaret. Points competition leader Robbie McEwen (Davitamon) finished safely in the bunch but his big rival Oscar Freire (Rabobank) was last to finish the stage at 36-22.
David Millar (Saunier Duval) rode impresisvely well, finishing 55th at 9-06. Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) finished 125th, safely in the main gruppo, 30-14 behind. Millar is now 64th overall at 59-50. Wiggins is 129th at 1-52-09.
1 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC 187km in 4.52.22
2 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 0.11
3 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas 1.10
4 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak
5 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile
6 Ruben Lobato (Spa) Saunier Duval 1.14
7 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis 1.18
8 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) T-Mobile 1.28
9 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 1.35
10 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 1.49
Overall standings after stage 15
1 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 69.00.05
2 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne-Illes Balears 0.10
3 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 2.02
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 2.12
5 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 2.17
6 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile 2.29
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 2.56
8 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile 5.01
9 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 6.18
10 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 6.20
11 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 6.22