During the fifteenth stage of the Tour de France towards Bagnères-de-Luchon the odds turned against race leader Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) as his chain dropped while attacking on the Port de Balès. Some might say that there's an unwritten rule that one doesn't attack the yellow jersey when he's running into bad luck, but Alberto Contador (Astana) maneuvered past Schleck and went on to gain 39 seconds on the race leader at the finish, taking over the yellow jersey by eight seconds.
As a visibly angry Schleck slowed down after crossing the finish line he noticed an Astana soigneur and sarcastically said to him, "Bravo". Schleck rode further on, waved away the awaiting media scrum that was awaiting him, before heading towards the podium area where he would receive the white jersey for best young rider in the Tour de France. The way he was riding to the podium it seemed like he was looking for a fight.
Afterwards, on French television, Schleck apologized for his behaviour at the finish line but he didn't hide that he was more than unhappy about the way he lost the yellow jersey to Contador.
"Shit happens, what can I say. He went full gas when he saw that I had a mechanical," said Schleck. "It's not up to me to decide but I would not have attacked the yellow jersey. I would not attack the race leader like that. If he would have dropped me it wouldn't have been a problem for me, but not this way.
"I guess we all have different cultures. Personally I wouldn't ride like that. My stomach is full of anger. I'm going to take my revenge on the Tourmalet."
Although it seemed as if Schleck had his mechanical when he switched gears, the now former yellow jersey said he didn't know what happened. "I don't know the reason, I only know that I dropped the chain," said Schleck. "I wasn't happy, of course. It is how it is. That's cycling."
Schleck reached the top of the Port de Balès trailing the Contador group by fifteen seconds. Despite his lesser skills in descending compared to a rider like Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) who was with Contador in front, Schleck lost only twenty-five more seconds in the descent; it might have been the best descent of his career.
"I had to go fast in the downhill and take some risks," Schleck said. "Although I'm angry now, we've got to keep our heads cool. It's still a bike race."
What do you think about the Andy Schleck mechanical? Should his GC rivals have waited or were they in the right to attack? Weigh in on the Cyclingnews Forum.