Tour de France: Can Andy Schleck Catch Alberto Contador?

Jason BrynsvoldCorrespondent IJuly 21, 2010

AX-3 DOMAINES, FRANCE - JULY 18: Luxembourg's Andy Schleck, in the yellow jersey, chases Spain�s Alberto Contador on the final climb of Stage 14 of the Tour de France, the first stage to enter the Pyrenees, on July 18, 2010 in Ax 3 Domaines, France. The 184.5km course from Revel features some of the toughest climbs so far in the race including the Port de Pailhères, which at 15.5 kilometers with an average gradient of 7.9% and higher may reveal who is strongest in the peloton.  Schleck of team Saxo Bank continues to wear the yellow jersey, while Astana`s Contador of Spain is a close second. Christophe Riblon of France won the stage. The iconic bicycle race will include a total of 20 stages and will cover 3,642km before concluding in Paris on July 25.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

After a mechanical mishap on Monday at the Tour de France, Andy Schleck lost his overall lead to the two-time and defending champion, Alberto Contador.

While there may be some discussion on whether Contador was sportsmanlike in passing Schleck because of a chain coming loose on the leader's bike, Schleck still has to make up nine seconds in the final four days of the race.

That may not seem like a lot of time to make up, but with only one day remaining in the Pyrenees, Schleck doesn't have much of an opportunity to gain on Contador, the superior flat-land racer.

Contador is considered the favorite between the two in what could be the race-deciding Stage 19, a 32.3 mile time trial on the day before the victory lap in Paris.

You never know what can happen in a time trial, though. In the 2007 Tour de France, Contador entered the 19th stage with the yellow jersey, but many expected him to lose it during the time trial.

Instead, Contador turned in the time trial of his life and held off Cadel Evans and Levi Leipheimer by under a minute, claiming yellow in France at 24 years old.

Schleck could experience the same kind of "day of his life" that Contador did in 2007, so this race is still far from being decided.

Weather conditions for Thursday's climb don't look very good either, so maybe Schleck will get some luck back after experiencing some bad luck on Monday. Anything can happen in the Tour de France.

Still, I don't anticipate Schleck being able to gain enough time back on Contador to win the Tour, especially with the time trial being in Contador's favor.

It may be hard to take for Schleck, but a mechanical problem could have cost him his first yellow jersey in the Tour de France and given Contador his third win in four years.