BAGNERES DE LUCHON, France, (Reuters) – Andy Schleck vowed to exact revenge on Alberto Contador after finishing behind the defending champion following a mechanical problem in yesterday’s 15th stage.
The Saxo Bank rider started the day with the race leader’s yellow jersey but his chain jumped off shortly after he launched an attack near the end of the 19.3-km ascent to the Port de Bales.
He was passed by Contador, who eventually gained 39 seconds after riding flat out with fellow Spaniard Samuel Sanchez and Russian Denis Menchov to take the yellow jersey by eight seconds.
The Luxembourg rider said he felt Contador and the other riders should have waited.
“I was feeling very good and I had a mechanical problem, I lost time, it happens, I won’t cry, I lost the jersey but it’s not over,” Schleck told reporters. “My stomach is full of anger and I will take my revenge.
“It’s not really nice but what can I say,” added Schleck, who said Contador, Menchov and Sanchez would not win the “fair play prize” for their move.
Contador, who waited for Schleck when he crashed in the second stage to Spa, dismissed the criticism.
“Some people understand and some people don’t. I knew there would be a controversy,” the 27-year-old said after being booed by some of the audience while he was on the podium to take the yellow jersey.
‘ALREADY ATTACKED’ “But I had already attacked when I learnt about the incident. The race was out. We had already stopped in Spa.
“This time, it was impossible to stop the race at that stage. We could not repeat what we did in Spa. I was not alone in the front and nobody stopped.”
He said he understood that Schleck was disappointed but felt that the day’s events did not change anything.
“I don’t think the Tour will be won or lost on the 30 seconds I took today,” he said.
The controversy was top of the Twitter worldwide trending.
“It’s not over, the Tour is just starting, it motivates me for the Tourmalet (Thursday’s stage with a mountain top finish),” Schleck said.
“I don’t think I would have wanted to take the jersey in such fashion.”
Schleck’s Saxo Bank manager Bjarne Riis said: Fair play or not, it’s hard to tell. He (Contador) waited a bit at the beginning, then, I don’t know. Too bad.”