Schleck-Contador friendship turns sour following chain problem

Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck, Tour de France 2010, stage 11

The friendship between Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck ended on the Port de Balès today at the Tour de France. Contador flew by Schleck in his yellow jersey, who was struggling to get his bicycle to go after losing his chain.

Luxembourg's Schleck said last Monday he had no enemies in the peloton and that he was friends with Contador, but today that changed.

"We are only here to bike race, let's leave it at that," said Schleck. "I asked him in there [behind podium], how can you do that?"

Schleck had distanced Contador with an attack three kilometres to the summit of the climb and only with 24.5 kilometres to race, but a stuck chain derailed his stage and possibly his Tour de France.

He led the race by 31 seconds and wore the leader's yellow jersey going into the stage. However, the time he spent getting his bike going again allowed Spain's Contador to ride clear with a known fast descender, Spaniard Samuel Sánchez.

A Spanish coup? Did Contador know that Schleck had a problem?

He passed Schleck at such a speed that he must have known something was wrong; in fact, he looked back several times to check the whereabouts of his rivals. And Schleck is not normally one to be distanced so easily.

"I had already attacked and I didn't see Andy had lost his chain," said Contador. "I wasn't aware of it."

The two-time Tour de France winner then reasoned he was right to attack even if Schleck had problems.

"It's not the first time that someone lost a chain. These things happen in the race. It could happen to me tomorrow.

"We were all ahead. The others didn't stop either."

Besides Sánchez, Contador rode clear with Denis Menchov and then caught up with earlier escapees Francesco Reda and Luke Roberts. His group finished nearly three minutes behind stage winner Thomas Voeckler, but more importantly for Contador, 39 seconds ahead on Schleck.

Contador now holds the yellow jersey and leads the race by eight seconds.

"I would not have attacked," responded Schleck when asked if he would have done the same thing.

"My stomach is full of anger," he continued. "I want to take my revenge."

He will have his chance in the next two Pyrenean mountain days: Pau tomorrow and the next stage, after a rest day, Col du Tourmalet on Thursday.

Schleck's time gains will be important to win his first Tour de France. He faces a 52-kilometre time trial on Saturday, the day before the race ends, and Contador is typically a better rider in the speciality.

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


Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1