Cycling: Schleck vows revenge after 'unfair' Contador attack
ANDY SCHLECK was left fuming and vowing he would take revenge when his 'love-in' with Alberto Contador ended abruptly yesterday.
Contador ruthlessly took advantage of Schleck's mechanical problems on the final climb to erase a 31-second gap and claim the yellow jersey for himself.
It is going to be open warfare now from here to Paris. Hitherto, Contador and Schleck had always spoken respectfully of each other and kept it 'clean' on the road. That, however, counted for nothing yesterday when Contador ripped up the unwritten law that you do not attack the yellow jersey when the race leader experiences a crash or a mechanical problem.
Schleck started the day 31 seconds ahead of Contador and needing to extend that lead ahead of Saturday's time trial.
After biding his time on another sweltering day behind escapee and eventual stage winner Thomas Voeckler, he attacked with a savage burst 4km short of the summit of the mighty Port de Bales, 24km from the finish, with only the tireless Alexander Vinokourov reacting.
In no time Schleck had put 45 yards on Contador and was stretching that lead when his chain slipped and tangled and he came to grinding halt.
Contador, chasing hard by now, had to swerve as he passed the stationary Schleck on the inside and narrowly avoided colliding with a parked car as he attacked the yellow jersey. Afterwards, however, he insisted he did not realise Schleck had stopped and encountered a problem.
The incident delayed Schleck by the best part of a minute and forced him to charge up the mountain alone before trying to minimise his losses on a spectacular descent.
Fast descents are not his forte and Contador had the excellent Samuel Sanchez to pick a line for his group. So for Schleck, ably assisted by Jurgen van den Broeck, to lose only 39 seconds to Contador was a phenomenal effort.
The normally laid-back Schleck was furious as he came over the finishing line. "My stomach is full of anger," he raged. "I will take my revenge. I would never have raced like that and taken advantage of that situation."
Contador insisted that he was "attacking before he broke his chain", that he was "unaware of the situation" and that he "didn't know what happened to Andy". Given that he only narrowly avoided colliding with Schleck and that he was in radio communication with his Astana director throughout, the cycling world may, however, choose to doubt him.
To gain his revenge, Schleck needs to keep his cool. Today is possibly not the occasion. Yes, it is the Queen stage of the Tour and a monstrous mountain day with category-one climbs of the Col d'Aspin and Col de Peyresourde and then the hors categorie beasts that are the Tourmalet and Aubisque.
A 61.5km downhill run for home, however, should mean that even the strongest of moves could be chased down by Contador's Astana team. Schleck's best chance will probably be the summit finish on the Tourmalet on Thursday. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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