While Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) claimed his second career Tour de France stage win, Andy Schleck could have lost the race Monday after he dropped his chain as the top contenders were approaching the top of the final climb to the beyond category Porte de Bales finish of stage 15.
Alberto Contador (Astana) rode past Schleck, then attacked. He finished seventh in the stage, 2:50 behind Voeckler. Schleck, who began the day with a 31-second advantage, tried to recover and bolted past several riders after his mechanical issue was resolved.
But Schleck eventually finished 39 seconds behind Contador, pushing the defending titlist to an eight-second advantage with five stages of the race remaining.
Contador said he was unaware Schleck had a mechanical problem.
Schleck said he would get revenge.
Voeckler, who led the Tour de France for 10 days in 2004 and won his first stage of the race last year, emerged with nine others early in the stage and remained in front through the rest of the 187.5-kilometer stage from Pamiers.
Top 10 (Stage 15)
1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 4:44:52
2 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:01:20
3 Aitor Perez Arrieta (Spa) Footon-Servetto, same time.
4 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, 0:02:50
5 Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram, same time.
6 Francesco Reda (Ita) Quick Step, s.t.
7 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana s.t.
8 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.
9 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, s.t.
10 Brian Vandborg (Den) Liquigas-Doimo, s.t.
General classification (After 15 stages)
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