Andy Schleck retained a jersey Monday afternoon, but it wasn't yellow.
Thanks to a mechanical failure on the second climb of Stage 15, the Tour contender from Luxembourg settled for the white jersey, which honors the young rider with the best overall time.
Two-time champion Alberto Contador was not about to lay low in a show of sympathy. As Schleck lost his chain and his lead, Contador rediscovered his mountain mojo and made up 39 seconds on his closest rival.
Saxo Bank's leader now faces an eight second deficit with two days left in the Pyrenees. That might not sound like much to a casual fan, but it means a lot for Astana's leading man.
Contador thrives with leads, large and small, and will now use the final climbs of the 97th Tour to test Schleck's strength and resolve.
The 187.5-kilometer stage featured two intermediate sprints and four categorized climbs. The Tour lost another rider at the day's outset when BMC Racing's Mauro Santambrogio abandoned the race. That narrowed the field to 174 competitors.
The power of Schleck's initial attack on the Port de Bales climb caused his Monday misfortune. Though he avoided a crash, the forced emergency repair cost him the precious seconds Contador refused to give back.
After the stage, Schleck appeared angry that his rivals did not wait for him to complete his speedy repair. It wasn't speedy enough. Contador told reporters he did not realize Schleck had a problem until after his damaging attack.
The Spaniard then accepted the yellow jersey like a holy garment. His arms and grin seemed to stretch the entire length of the day's course, from Pamiers to Bagneres-de-Luchon. He knows what to do from here.
Bbox Bouygues Telecom's Thomas Voeckler glided to his second career Tour stage victory. He made his move 8 kilometers from the top of Port de Bales and led all riders the rest of the way by more than a minute.
Garmin-Transitions' Ryder Hesjedal moved up to 10th place with a strong outing.
Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov, fresh off his heralded Sunday stage win, returned to his role as Contador's chief support man.
Stage 15 proved a great day for France, a potential defining moment for Contador, and a nightmare for Schleck.
If Contador has his way, it won't be Schleck's last.