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2010 Tour de France – Stage 15 News and Updates

| by Sports Nickel

97th Tour de France

Stage 15 – Pamiers to Bagneres-de-Luchon – 187.0 km (115.9 mi)

19 July 2010

 2010 Tour de France - Stage 15 Map

2010 Tour de France - Stage 15 Profile

Chalk another one up for France! For the fifth time in this year’s Tour de France, a domestic rider took a stage victory as Thomas Voeckler (Bbox-Bouygues Telecom) crossed the finish line alone in Luchon. Decked out in the tricolor bleu, blanc et rouge of the French national champion, Voeckler — who will always hold a soft spot in his countrymen’s hearts after his ten days in yellow during the 2004 Tour — put in a vicious acceleration with 8km left to ride up the hors-categorie Port de Bales climb that dropped the other nine riders in the breakaway. Riding alone from that point, the Bbox rider maintained his advantage to the finish well enough that his final 200m were spent with arms upraised in celebration as the throngs watching by the roadside greeted their own gleefully.

Behind the day’s winner, though, a contentious debate erupted on the Bales as yellow jersey Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) suffered a mechanical failure at the worst possible time. As Schleck’s chain slipped off the drivetrain as he shifted to accelerate his attack on Alberto Contador (Astana) and the other contenders remaining in his group, so the maillot jaune also slipped off his shoulders. Contador counterattacked just as Schleck was forced to the shoulder of the mountain road, joined by podium hopeful Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Denis Menchov (Rabobank). They would ultimately stay 39 seconds clear of a furiously charging Schleck, who would lose the yellow jersey despite vainly battling to reintegrate and keep his GC lead.

What duty does a cyclist have to wait when an opponent falters through no fault of his own? Much public sentiment has come out against Contador, who claimed the yellow jersey for the first time in 2010 by just eight seconds in Luchon — the defending champion was roundly booed by the assembled masses at the jersey presentation. Sure, it is unfortunate that the Luxembourger was sidelined by his chain’s malfunction, and it was the worst possible time it could have happened on the course. But it doesn’t make Contador’s efforts any less legitimate.

There are 21 stages in the Tour de France precisely to offset any one bad day. It is certainly nice for a rider when the peloton waits for his return, but by no means is it a requirement. There is no unwritten rule that the maillot jaune must not be left behind — after all, it’s a race and part of the goal is to wrest the jersey over to your side. Look way back into the annals of history at the tale of the 1913 Tour de France. The record books show that Belgian cyclist Philippe Thys of the powerhouse Peugeot team won the first of his three Tours that year; but without the misfortune of Eugene Christophe, the 1912 runner-up whose fork broke after crashing into a car on the descent of the Tourmalet (the mythic Pyrenean climb that will be ascended twice in this year’s centennial run through the southern mountain range) while he was race leader and caused him to lose hours and a podium spot, it likely would’ve been the Frenchman beating out the Belgian for the title.

But that’s racing. At least these days Schleck lost just 39 seconds by the end. He was able to get things back aligned and on the road, and he had mechanical support right there in an automobile to assist him and give him a quick boost back up to speed on the climb. In Christophe’s time, riders were not allowed any outside support; so on that fateful Stage 6 in the 1913 Tour, from Bayonne to — you guessed it — Luchon, Christophe was forced to run with his busted bicycle nearly nine miles down the climb before reaching the village of Ste. Marie de Campan. There he found a blacksmith’s shop, where he reforged the fork together by himself. The race organizers, watching on, penalized him a further ten minutes — for utilizing the blacksmith’s apprentice to work the bellows while he forged the bicycle back into one.

After all… there are still two Pyrenean stages sandwiched around Wednesday’s rest day. Tomorrow sees the traditional route across the original four climbs of the 1910 Tour — the Peyresourde, the Aspin, the Tourmalet and the Aubisque — on a ride from Luchon to Pau. On Thursday the remaining riders endure another mountain day, taking in the Marie-Blanque and the Soulor before a summit finish at the top of the Tourmalet will likely serve as the dividing line to separate out those eight seconds one way or the other. So don’t feel too sorry for Schleck, and don’t castigate Contador too much… they’ve still both got all the chances in the world to persevere and conquer the yellow jersey, and one slipped chain isn’t going to steal away the Tour from a rider if he is truly the best of the year…


1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 4:44:51  
2 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:01:20  
3 Aitor Perez Arrieta (Spa) Footon-Servetto    
4 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:50  
5 Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram    
6 Francesco Reda (Ita) Quick Step    
7 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana    
8 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi    
9 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank    
10 Brian Vandborg (Den) Liquigas-Doimo    


1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 72:50:42  
2 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:08  
3 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:02:00  
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0:02:13  
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:03:39  
6 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:05:01  
7 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack 0:05:25  
8 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:05:45  
9 Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 0:07:12  
10 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin – Transitions 0:07:51  


1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 187 pts
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team 185  
3 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC – Columbia 162  
4 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 144  
5 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha 138  
6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Professional Cycling Team 120  
7 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 107  
8 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram 102  
9 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 100  
10 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 98  


1 Anthony Charteau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 115 pts
2 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step 92  
3 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 82  
4 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 76  
5 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 76  
6 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 72  
7 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Caisse d’Epargne 68  
8 Mario Aerts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 65  
9 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 63  
10 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 60  


1 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 72:50:50  
2 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:04:53  
3 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo 0:07:50  
4 Julien El Farès (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne 0:40:53  
5 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 0:58:47  
6 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 1:10:54  
7 Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Footon-Servetto 1:12:25  
8 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank 1:27:24  
9 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 1:31:19  
10 Arkaitz Duran Daroca (Spa) Footon-Servetto 1:32:10  

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