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(Reuters) - A chain malfunction in the last climb of the 187.5-kms 15th stage derailed Andy Schleck's Tour de France chances and allowed rival Alberto Contador to grab the yellow jersey on Monday.

Overnight Tour leader Schleck had just started to attack defending champion Contador on the grueling Port de Bales climb, 25 kms from the finish line in Bagneres de Luchon, when he was stopped short as his chain came off.

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Stage 15 Results
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


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General classification after Stage 15
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


Full results here..


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Jersey Standings:
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Alberto Contador
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Alessandro Petacchi
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Anthony Charteau
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Andy Schleck

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Links to news sites...

"Chain, and gloves, off in Tour de France showdown
By JAMEY KEATEN (AP)

BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, France - The gloves have come off at the Tour de France.

Andy Schleck was fighting mad after dropping his chain during a tough climb Monday and then losing the overall lead when defending champion Alberto Contador unabashedly sped ahead to take the yellow jersey.

"He can be nervous for the next days ... this gives me anger," said Schleck, vowing revenge. "I'm not the one who will get chased any more, I'm the one who chases. That's a big difference."

The episode highlighted the often-unclear etiquette of cycling's greatest race, where the wearer of the yellow jersey is conferred almost queen-bee-like respect - and taking advantage of mishaps out of his control is frowned upon.

The breach came on a day when France's Thomas Voeckler came out of a long breakaway to win the 15th stage from Pamiers to Bagneres to Luchon, finishing a 116.5-mile trek that included the merciless Port de Bales climb in 4 hours, 44 minutes, 51 seconds.

Contador, who gained time while Schleck was putting his chain back on and during a high-speed downhill to the finish, crossed 2:50 back in seventh, while Schleck came in 12th - 3:29 after Voeckler.

After more than two weeks and 1,800 miles of racing, the two-time champion from Spain leads Schleck by merely 8 seconds. Spain's Samuel Sanchez is third, 2:00 back.

With Schleck only 31 seconds ahead going into Monday's stage and big Pyrenean climbs ahead promising a shakeout, tensions were certain to escalate. The two self-avowed friends had spent one calmer day in this Tour discussing a recent vacation getaway they had had together.

The friendship is now apparently on hold." Read more from the AP...

"Contador stuns Schleck as Voeckler wins 15th stage
By Justin Davis (AFP) -

BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, France - Alberto Contador signalled his yellow jersey intentions in defiant style after sensationally attacking Andy Schleck on Monday when the Luxemburger suffered a mechanical problem.

French champion Thomas Voeckler handed the hosts their fifth success of the race after soloing to victory on the 15th stage, finishing nearly three minutes ahead of the race favourites.

However, as he raced away to victory on the 21.5km descent from the Port de Bales climb, all the race drama was going on behind him.

Contador was caught by surprise by a Schleck attack inside the final two kilometres of the 19.3km ascent of the Bales summit.

Although he had moved to counter, the Spaniard did not stop for the Saxo Bank leader after his gear mechanism broke seconds later, leaving Schleck stranded on the hill and having to fix the problem himself.

Contador raced ahead with Russian Denis Menchov and Spaniard Samuel Sanchez to crest the summit just over 20sec ahead of Schleck.
And together the trio completed the descent, later catching up with several breakaway riders who had been droppped by Voeckler, to finish 39sec ahead of the Luxemburger.

Schleck, the runner-up to two-time champion Contador last year, is now eight seconds behind in second place, with Sanchez and Menchov still in third and fourth respectively.

Although mechanical problems are considered part and parcel of bike racing, Schleck hit out immediately at Contador for not being "fair play".

"In the same situation I would not have taken advantage," said Schleck, who had held the yellow jersey since taking it from Australia's Cadel Evans on stage nine." Read more from the AFP...

"Controversial Contador takes yellow jersey from Schleck

(CNN) -- Defending champion Alberto Contador seized the yellow jersey in the Tour de France in controversial fashion after a mechanical problem cost previous leader Andy Schleck nearly 40 seconds in the Pyrenees.

Schleck, who was leading Astana rider Contador by 31 seconds in the overall standings going into stage 15, dropped his chain while launching an attack on the day's final climb and had to stop to repair the problem.

Rather than waiting for his rival - in keeping with the Tour's sporting traditions - Contador and a group including fellow contenders Denis Menchov and Samuel Sanchez surged clear and stole a march to the finish.

The 187.5 kilometer stage from Pamiers to Bagneres-de-Luchon - the second of four stages in the Pyrenees - was won by French champion Thomas Voeckler after a fine solo ride, finishing nearly three minutes ahead of the race favorites." Read more from CNN International...