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Voeckler Wins Tour de France Stage 15, Contador Takes Yellow

Schleck loses chain as he makes Tour-winning attack

By James Fish
Epoch Times Staff
Created: July 19, 2010 Last Updated: July 19, 2010
Related articles: Sports » Other
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WIN FOR FRANCE: Thomas Voeckler celebrates on the finish line as he wins Stage 15 of the 2010 Tour de France. (Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images)

WIN FOR FRANCE: Thomas Voeckler celebrates on the finish line as he wins Stage 15 of the 2010 Tour de France. (Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images)

Bbox rider Thomas Voeckler, the National Champion of France, thrilled his countrymen by winning Stage 15 of the 2010 Tour de France.

Voeckler joined a breakaway at 90 kilometers, attacked it 10 km from the top of the grueling Hors Categorie Port de Balès, and stayed away up the ever-steepening ascent and the dangerous high-speed descent.

“I am very proud of what I have done today,” Voeckler told LeTour.fr.

“At an emotional level, what happened at the championships of France, when I came home first, was already enormous. But then to win a stage of the Tour de France with the tricolor on my shoulders is extraordinary.

“It is true that I have a special way to ride, but I do not attack for the sake of attacking. It’s an attack for the victory. And when you’re not the strongest in the world, you must try many times for it to work."

Schleck Gambles All, and Loses

CHAIN FAILS: Andy Schleck (R) looks at his chain as he attacks Alberto Contador (2L), Jurgen Van den Broeck (L) and Alexandre Vinokourov (C) in Stage 15 of the 2010 Tour de France. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

CHAIN FAILS: Andy Schleck (R) looks at his chain as he attacks Alberto Contador (2L), Jurgen Van den Broeck (L) and Alexandre Vinokourov (C) in Stage 15 of the 2010 Tour de France. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Andy Schleck and Saxo Bank made an all-out effort to put time into Alberto Contador—time Schleck will desperately need if he wants to win the Tour—but a slipped chain spoiled his efforts.

After using up his teammates pushing the pace on the climb up the Hors Categorie Port de Balès, Andy Schleck made his decisive move, aimed at dropping Alberto Contador and gaining the time Schleck will need to counter Contador’s skill in the Stage 19 time trial.

Contador did not immediately respond; it looked like Schleck might get away, but his chain popped off, leaving him powerless while Contador, Denis Menchov, and Sammy Sanchez passed him by.

Schleck was not pleased to possibly lose the Tour because of a mechanical problem; he felt that the leaders could have waited, as they did in Stage Two.

“I attacked and then I dropped the chain. Of course at this opportunity I was attacked from the back,” Schleck told Versus-TV. “If it’s fair or not, that’s not up to me to decide—but I would not have raced like that.

“I can tell you, my stomach is full of anger and I want to take my revenge.”

Alberto Contador claimed no to know what had happened until he was past Schleck. “I didn’t see what happened,” he told Versus. “I had already launched my counterattack, so I just continued. I didn’t know he had mechanical trouble until I was ahead of him.”

Schleck lost thirty seconds fixing his chain, while the three other leaders finished the climb.

'What happened, happens'

Apparently Andy Scleck's anger was not all directed at Alberto Contador. "Things happen, and everything happens for a reason," he told LeTour.fr.

"People can say what they want but they also have realize that Alberto was one of the guys who waited for me in Spa and that was really a great sign of fair play.

"Today was a different story, a different scenario, but the Tour is not finished."

Scleck was almost too upset to talk when he first stepped off his bike, but a few minutes later he was much more philosphocal.

“What happened, happens. I cannot change the situation even if I’m mad. Of course I felt throwing my bike into the fence and just hitting someone, but you’ve got to keep yourself under control in situations like this.

"It is how it is. I’m not crying behind my jersey. In the end it comes down to the fact that this is a bike race and we will make the final count. I’m not done with.”

Another Chance for Schleck?

This was Schleck’s big bid to win the Tour. His team, Saxo Bank, might not have another all-out surge in their legs, and this one came after Contador’s team, Astana, hurt themselves yesterday trying unsuccessfully to get Contador some time.

This was the stage when Schleck’s strategy dictated that he would make his Tour-winning attack, and he was doing it, when a simple mechanical failure stopped him in his tracks.

"I will ride on the Tourmalet until I fall from my bike and give everything to this race," Scleck said, referring to Stage 16's trek up the fabled Hors Categorie climb. But will individual effort be enough?

Tomorrow Saxo Bank will be tired and Astana will be stronger. Will Astana attack and stretch the gap? Can Saxo Bank recover? After tomorrow’s stage comes a rest day. That leaves just one more mountain stage for Schleck to gain back time.

The last mountain stage ends with a mountaintop finish on the Hors Categorie Col du Tourmalet, a second time up the mountain. If both teams are rested, will it be a go-for-broke shootout?

Opinion Divided

Opinions are divided as to whether it is right to possibly win the Tour by capitalizing on an opponent’s mechanical problem.

Half the crowd booed as Alberto Contador donned the yellow jersey after the race.

Garmin Transitions sprinter Robbie Hunter tweeted: “From a person who rides in the peleton, Contador should have waited. Had he waited everybody would have waited.

“My opinion: this was not cool! If Contador had waited he would have won the heart of the world. Like this, he got a yellow jersey on his back, but it’s always gonna be a ?”

Radio Shack’s Ryder Hesjedal told Versus, “That’s bike racing. Andy attacked, maybe so viciously something happened to his chain, I don’t know. But he had to stop, and people aren’t going to wait for him, that’s for sure.”

Several other tweets are not repeatable in a family publication, but express unhappiness with Contador’s reaction.

A few favor Contador’s move. Veteran cyclist and cycling journalist Phil Ligget feels that in the final 20 km of a Tour stage, no one can wait, and with Denis Menchov and Sammy Sanchez right there, Contador had to go or give up his chance for a win in 2010.

Others point out that possibly Schleck missed a shift and popped the chain himself. If he mis-coordinated his power stroke and his gear change, he could have caused his own difficulties.

This is particularly possible if he was switching his front chainrings, and from the reaction of his bicycle—the back wheel popped into the air—it looks as if the chain got jammed between the frame and the chainrings.

If his chain had popped off at the back he could have dropped it back on in seconds, but it took him at least fifteen seconds to fix. To me this indicates a chain wedged between the small ring and the frame.


Stage 15 2010 Tour de France

 

Rider 

Team 

Time

1

Thomas Voeckler

Bbox Bouyges

4h 44' 51" 

2

Alessandro Ballan

BMC

+ 01' 20"

3

Aitor Perez-Arrieta

Footon-Serveto

+ 01' 20"

4

Lloyd Mondory

AG2R la Mondiale

+ 02' 50"

5.

Luke Roberts

Milram

+ 02' 50"

6

Francesco Reda

Quick Step

+ 02' 50"

7

Alberto Contador

Astana

+ 02' 50"

8

Samuel Sanchez

Euskatel-Euskadi

+ 02' 50"

9

Denis Menchov

Rabobank

+ 02' 50"

10

Brian Vandborg

Liquigas

+ 02' 50"

11

Johan Van Summeren

Garmin-Transitions

+ 02' 50"

12

Andy Schleck

Team Saxo Bank

+ 03' 29"

13

Jurgen Van Den Broeck

Omega Pharma-Lotto

+ 03' 29"

14

Alexandre Vinokourov

Astana

+ 03' 29"

15

Robert Gesink

Rabobank

+ 03' 55"

16

Ryder Hesjedal

Garmin-Transitions

+ 03' 55"

17

Levi Leiphemer

Radio Shack

+ 03' 55"

18

John Gadret

AG2R la Mondiale

+ 03' 55"

19

Roman Kreuziger

Liquigas

+ 04' 08"

20

Kevin de Weert

Quick Step

+ 04' 08"

 

General Classification after Stage 15

 

Rider

Team

Time 

1

Alberto Contador

Astana

72h 50' 42"

2

Andy Schleck

Team Saxo Bank

+ 00' 08"

3

Samuel Sanchez

Euskatel-Euskadi

+ 02' 00"

4

Denis Menchov

Rabobank

+ 02' 13"

5

Jurgen Van Den Broeck

Omega Pharma-Lotto

+ 03' 39"

6

Robert Gesink

Rabobank

+ 05' 01"

7

Levi Leiphemer

Radio Shack

+ 05' 25"

8

Joaquin Rodriguez

Katusha

+ 05' 45"

9

Alexandre Vinokourov

Astana

+ 07' 12"

10

Ryder Hesjedal

Cervelo

+ 07' 51"

11

Roman Kreuziger

Liquigas

+ 07' 58"

12

Luis-Leon Sanchez

Caisse d’Epargne

+ 08' 19"

13

Carlos Sastre

Garmin-Transitions

+ 09' 02"

14

Ivan Basso

Liquigas

+ 09' 15"

15

Andréas Klöden

Radio Shack

+ 11' 14"

16

Thomas Lovvkist

Sky

+ 12' 09"

17

Nicolas Roche

AG2R la Mondiale

+ 12' 34"

18

Kevin de Weert

Quick Step

+ 14' 07"

19

John Gadret

AG2R la Mondiale

+ 14' 24"

20

Ruben Plaza Molina

Caisse d’Epargne

+ 14' 47"

 




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