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Only in Cycling…

Monday’s stage 15 of the Tour de France ended in controversy as, on the last climb of the day, Andy Schleck faced mechanical problems giving Alberto Contador the overall lead in the tour.

With a limited amount of mountain stages left in this years tour Schleck knew he needed to put time on Contador before the TT stages.  In an attempt to do so, on the last climb of the day, he lost his chain and was forced to get off his bike twice to fix the issue.  Contador continued on, finishing far enough along to take the overall lead by 8 seconds.

In any other sport this wouldn’t be an issue.  If someone runs out of gas in NASCAR the other drivers don’t slow down and pit with them…they continue on.  However, in cycling it’s custom to wait for the downed or broken rider.  As a result, Contador is taking a fair amount of flack for not waiting.  His response was that he didn’t know Schleck was having issues but between the fact that Schleck quickly lost momentum and was looking at his chain as Contador passed him by makes that hard to believe.

A similar issue occurred in 2003 as Lance was attempting his 5th straight tour victory.  Lance was on the attack when he tangled with a fan that was a bit too close to the route causing him to go down.  Jan Ulrich and the rest of the group held up and waited for Armstrong.  In 2001 Lance waited for Ulrich when he went off the path himself.  In 2003 Ulrich could have won if he did not wait as the margin of victory for Lance was only 61 seconds.

Schleck was less than pleased at the end of the stage and vowed revenge on the next stage which didn’t exactly happen as he was not able to make up any time during stage 16 on Tuesday.  Since, Schleck has said he’s over it and Contador has apologized.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the stages to come and if it becomes an issue down the road.  If Contador ends up with the win and it’s less than the time gained in stage 15 I’m sure it’s not the last we’ll heard about this.

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