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

 

  • Mike

    Wrong Nicki R.
    Merckx refused to wear the Yellow after claiming first place when Ocana crashed out of the Tour on the col de Mente. Cos he said he had not earned it.
    A true champion

  • Nick r

    Eddie Merckx wouldn’t have waited!

  • Dave

    Poor Andy, First of all these rotten people put time trials in the Tour that Andy can not win, then they put cobbles on the course and his comment then was stages like these do not belong in the TDF, where were the cobbles you muppet but in France, then he can not change gears .

    For next year just stick to the Luxembourg championships which you can win without whingeing

  • patricia

    Oh and ‘chapeau’ to Voeckler!

  • hovis

    I think the debate about whether Contador should or shouldn’t have attacked will go on and on. I can see both sides. What I can’t buy is him saying he didn’t know about the mechanical. That’s why I’ve lost respect for him. Better to come clean and say he was justified in attacking rather than deny he noticed that Schleck ground to a halt in from of him and didn’t hear his DS no doubt screaming “Go Go Go” in his earpiece! I hope Andy takes encouragement from the fact that Contador is obviously frightened enough of him to feel the need to do it.

  • Brian

    First: It was not even a mechanical problem

    Second: “unwritten rules in the peleton” “certain codes in the peleton” But of course my friends! Like the unwritten rules in the peleton of not talking about DOPING. I don’t fail to recognise these ‘ugly’ rules which corrupt Cycling, I reject them; they are pure hypocracy nothing to do with Sport. But nice one John Dee to take as a exemple of great sportsmanship Amrstrong (the doper) and Ullrich (the doper). LOL!

    Finally: Congrats once again to Thomas Voeckler! Thanks to Andy Schleck’s inability to switch a gear, noone has a word for Voeckler’s stellar stage win.

    .

  • Graham H

    Can’t believe there’s so much hoo hah about someone’s chain coming off and then someone riding away from them. If Schleck can’t be bothered to sort out a bike that works then hard luck. And it wasn’t just Contador that went past him, so did many others including Kloden and Armstrong.

    Fabian Cancellara should have asked for the whole stage to be neutralised.

    Drivel.

  • Mike

    The actions of a frightened man.
    Contador is not as strong as last year and decided attacking was his only chance of gaining time.
    Not the way to win the Tour Alberto. Its not just what you do, its the way you do it.
    And I thought he was an honest decent champion. Shame.
    I for one have never heard the crowd boo the yellow jersey on the podium before.

  • ibizasimon

    Very poor sportsmanship from Contador, that is no way to take yellow. Will never support Contador again. Its all about Karma and we shall see what happens… Schleck spoke very well afterwards, does him great credit.

  • Ryan Chung

    Brian,

    “Contador counter-attacked and did not see that Schleck had a mechanical problem” ????

    what you’ve been watching, re-runs of susan boyle??

    AC was riding right behind vino…and even vino slowed down to see that schleck was having bike problems….AC decided to fly off @ that moment…

    go out to the nearest electronic store and get a larger TV

  • Andy McGrath

    Brian, without taking either side, that’s a key difference between fact and opinion – Schleck attacking is a clear fact, Contador saying that he failed to see Schleck’s mechanical is his opinion.

    This debate will certainly rumble on tonight. It’s a tricky situation for the riders involved – Schleck, Menchov and Sanchez also undeniably had something to gain from distancing Schleck – and may well have had information from their race radios. Machiavellian or not?

  • John Dee

    Brian fails to recognise that there are certain codes in the peleton.

    Try recalling Armstrong v Ullrich. Besides do you not think he (Contador) was told via his ear piece of the situation?

    I am no Schleck fan but this is not the way to do things. Let’s hope it acts as a spur for Schleck tomorrow and he gains time then gets the jersey and then probably finishes a good 2nd after the Time Trial?

  • Kit

    As a Schleck fan, I’m optimistically going to reckon that Contador was too scared to wait….

  • P Savoldelli

    Schleck needs to learn to descend if he wants to win a Grand Tour. He had 30km to get back thirty seconds.
    Attacking on such a huge gear was a great risk to take when he lost momentum and needed to change down again – he brought it on himself, not a mechanical in the accepted sense of the term.

  • Brian

    Contador did not ‘outwardly’ failed to slow for Schleck. Schleck attacked, Contador counter-attacked and did not see that Schleck had a mechanical problem just like Menchov and Sanchez. That’s bike racing. The entire peloton waited for the Schleck brothers in Spa. Enough is enough. Maybe now Schleck will attack instead of playing poker and talking BS, because he may not even be second in Paris. In short, there is NO controversy CW. It’s bike racing.
    Congrats to Thomas Voeckler!

  • Cavologuardi

    A ‘racing’ mechanical? Bad luck for Schlecklette? Or poor judgement? Bert’s counter justified or not? Discuss.

  • John Dee

    They used to say never trust a Dutchman – let’s rephrase that NEVER trust a Spaniard!!
    Not the way to get into yellow Alberto – at least let the man get back to you and then try and attack.
    Having been a Contador supporter I am now forced to change my view.