In Bagneres du Luchon this afternoon, stage 15 of the Tour de France was solely won by Bbox Bouygues Telecom rider, Thomas Voeckler. The relentless drama between Alberto Contador (Astana) and Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) on its boiling point never bothered the Frenchman a bit as he cherished his stage 15 win of the Tour de France, his second year in a row.
Voeckler admitted that he nearly abandoned the Tour, “I worked hard for this stage win. It has been a really difficult race for me and, if there had been crosswinds on (the stage during) July 14 instead of a headwind, I would almost certainly have pulled out. In the past three days I’ve been feeling much better.”
Voeckler, nicknamed, “le chouchou” or “France’s darling” was in no doubt to be the strongest among the breakaway group of 10 riders halfway through the 187 km stage from Pamiers. After beating all odds, Thomas Voeckler rode into Bagneres de Luchon more than half a minute ahead of the group to take the win from the rest. Alessandro Ballan of BMC Racing Team came in at second and Aitor Perez Arrieta of Footon-Serveto came in at third.
It was the Spaniard, Alberto Contador, who took the race leader’s yellow jersey from Andy Schleck, who encountered a mechanical problem (chain came off). A very unpleasant reception meted by the crowd while Contador was being awarded the yellow jersey. An ongoing debate ensued after the incident. Some say Contador should have waited while others feel that he did the right thing.
In his defense, Contador explains, “I set out with the intention to attack on the climb, but when I countered Andy I didn’t know he actually had a problem. When I knew he had the problem, it was already too late. We had taken a significant lead on him.”
Schleck reacts, “I’m really disappointed. My stomach is full of anger, and I want to take my revenge.”
Bjarne Riis, Saxo Bank team manager comments, “I didn’t see it but it’s all part of racing circumstances. I think he (Contador) waited at the start, and then he went. That’s just part of racing.”
On the other hand, Voeckler treasured his solo win with applause from the delighted fans and crowd.