French champion Thomas Voeckler took the home nation’s fifth stage win of the Tour de France, attacking his breakaway companions halfway up the Port de Bales and soloeing down the winding descent into Bagneres-du-Luchon.

However, there was controversy behind as Andy Schleck lost his yellow jersey after unshipping his chain while attacking on the day’s last climb. Alberto Contador (Astana), the defending champion and the man who takes over the race lead, profited from the mechanical problem.

The Luxembourgeois’s fortunes reversed in one moment. After making a big acceleration with three kilometres of the final climb to go, Schleck appeared to be distancing his rivals.

Then his chain was off; the back wheel twitched violently, he ground to a halt and after failing to get it back, the 25-year-old had to take a spare bicycle and start his fierce pursuit.

Just minute earlier, there had been similar dissembling to yesterday’s fourteenth stage. Schleck had moved away with Contador, Sanchez, Menchov and Van den Broeck only to slow the pace significantly, allowing the distanced riders to get back on.

Ahead, Thomas Voeckler had already struck out alone and was putting time into his closest challenger, Alessandro Ballan (BMC Racing Team). The former world champion would be joined by Aitor Perez (Footon-Servetto) near the climb’s summit.

The Bbox Bouygues Telecom proved the strongest man from a ten-rider move which escaped at the 93km mark, after two hours of fast and vigilant racing.

Alongside Voeckler, Ballan and Perez, it also included Johan van Summeren (Garmin-Transitions), Serguei Ivanov (Katusha), Sebastien Turgot (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Lloyd Mondory (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Luke Roberts (Team Milram), Brian Vandborg (Liquigas-Doimo) and Francesco Reda (Quick Step).

Press play to watch Stage 15 highlights

The yellow jersey chases

With the yellow jersey chasing hard behind, Contador, Sanchez and Menchov looked around but appeared to resume a regular pace as they pushed towards the summit of the Port de Bales.

Crossing the climb 20 seconds down, with Jurgen van den Broeck in tow, Schleck descended the narrow and corkscrewing road to the finish as quickly as he dared, albeit to no avail.

All with their own reasons for distancing Schleck, Contador, Sanchez and Menchov did not hesitate on the 19-kilometre run down, sweeping up several of the day’s breakaway members on the precipitious road down.

Victorious Voeckler

Eighty seconds after a jubilant Voeckler kissed the French tricolore jersey in celebration of his second Tour stage, Ballan edged Perez for second place.

Behind, breakaway member Lloyd Mondory (Ag2r-La Mondiale) claimed fourth at the head of the Contador group. Crossing the line in seventh, the defending champion rode into the yellow jersey and a brewing storm about sportsmanship and decorum at the Tour.

The clock ticked down behind. While Schleck carved through the final corners in Bagneres-de-Luchon with great urgency, he ultimately lost the maillot jaune by eight seconds.

The Luxembourgeois was visibly angry as he headed off to the Saxo Bank team bus after the finish. If the last few days have been characterised by mind games and kidology, the gloves are now off for the last two stages in the Pyrenees, with the race precariously placed.

Meanwhile, Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) lost almost seven minutes to the favourites, dropping to 23rd place overall.

RESULTS
Tour de France, stage 15: Pamiers – Bagneres-de-Luchon
1. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 187.5km in 4-44-51

2. Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team at 1-20
3. Aitor Perez (Spa) Footon-Servetto at same time
4. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 2-50
5. Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram
6. Francesco Reda (Ita) Quick Step
7. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana
8. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
9. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
10. Brian Vandborg (Den) Liquigas-Doimo all same time
Others
12. Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 3-29
13. Jurgen van den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at same time
23. Lance Armstrong (USA) RadioShack at 4-08
48. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky at 9-35
104. Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky at 26-04
113. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Columbia at 28-49
141. Steve Cummings (GB) Team Sky
145. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo Test Team
151. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Transitions
170. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo Test Team at same time

General classification after stage 15
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana 72-50-42

2. Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 8secs
3. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 2-00
4. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 2-13
5. Jurgen van den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 3-39
6. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank at 5-01
7. Levi Leipheimer (Usa) Team RadioShack at 5-25
8. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 5-45
9. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana at 7-12
10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions at 7-51
Others
17. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 12-34
23. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky at 17-44
31. Lance Armstrong (USA) Team RadioShack at 40-31
72. Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky at 1-33-12
149. Steve Cummings (GB) Team Sky at 2-47-18
151. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Columbia at 2-49-43
157. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Transitions at 2-57-19
163. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo Test Team at 2-59-45
166. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo Test Team at 3-01-58

Points classification: Alessandro Petacchi
King of the Mountains classification: Anthony Charteau
Young rider classification: Andy Schleck

Lance Armstrong, Tour de France 2010, stage 15

Lance Armstrong and RadioShack

Levi Leipheimer, Tour de France 2010, stage 15

Levi Leipheimer

Thomas Voeckler wins, Tour de France 2010, stage 15

Thomas Voeckler wins: Tuck yourself in young man

Andy Schleck finishes, Tour de France 2010, stage 15

Andy Schleck: Not happy at time loss

Alberto Contador, Tour de France 2010, stage 15

Alberto Contador takes the race lead

Tour de France 2010: Latest news

Wiggins at 2010 Tour: “I haven’t got it”

Basso wins Tour’s acceptance; podium spot next goal

Contador versus Schleck: A game of seconds

Can Cav win without Renshaw?

Hesjedal pushing his way to the Tour’s top

Renshaw disqualification overshadows Cavendish’s win

Charly Wegelius pulls out of Tour

Did Armstrong own a stake in Tailwind Sports, or not?

Cavendish in a ‘must win’ situation for Tour’s green jersey

Millar rides through pain barrier to make time cut

Roche alongside Tour’s top men ahead of Pyrenees

Wiggins to aim for Tour de France stage win?

Dan Lloyd battles on in Tour despite groin strain

Tour de France 2010: Stage reports

Stage 14: Riblon hangs on in Pyrenees to give France fourth stage win

Stage 13: Vino returns to top of Tour after doping ban

Stage 12: Rodriguez wins as Contador attacks

Stage 11: Cavendish bags third stage win but lead out man kicked out of Tour

Stage 10: Cavendish bags third stage win but his lead-out man is kicked out of race

Stage 10: Paulinho claims narrow stage victory on Bastille day

Stage nine: Casar wins stage as Schleck and Contador go head-to-head

Stage seven: Chavanel wins stage and takes overall as Thomas drops out of Tour’s white

Stage six: Cavendish makes it two as Tour hots up

Stage five: Cavendish wins his first stage of Tour

Stage four: Petacchi wins into Reims

Stage three: Hushovd takes dramatic win; Thomas second on stage and GC

Stage three live coverage: As it happened

Stage two: Comeback man Chavanel takes victory in Spa

Stage one: Petacchi wins in Brussels as bunch left in tatters

Prologue: Cancellara pips Martin to win

Tour de France 2010: Photos

Stage 14 photo gallery

Stage 13 photo gallery

Stage 12 photo gallery

Stage 11 photo gallery

Stage 10 photo gallery

Stage nine photo gallery

Stage eight photo gallery

Tour 2010 wallpaper

Stage seven photo gallery

Stage six photo gallery

Stage five photo gallery

Stage four photo gallery

Stage three photo gallery

Stage two photo gallery

Stage one gallery

Prologue photo gallery

Tour de France 2010: Videos

Stage 14 video highlights

Stage 13 video highlights

Stage 12 video highlights

Stage 11 video highlights

Stage 10 video highlights

Stage nine video highlights

Stage eight video highlights

Stage seven video highlights

Stage six video highlights

Stage five video highlights

Stage four video highlights

Stage three video highlights

Stage two video highlights

Stage one video highlights

Prologue video highlights

Tour de France 2010: Race guide

Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

Official start list, with race numbers

Brits at the Tour 2010

Tout team guide

Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins

Tour de France 2010: Pictures

Tour team presentation, Rotterdam

Tour teams take to the cobbles: Photo special