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
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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