- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 18, 2006

12:52 p.m.

L’ALPE D’HUEZ, France — American Floyd Landis reclaimed the Tour de France’s overall lead today, taking back the yellow jersey after an uphill finish on the famed L’Alpe d’Huez.

The 15th stage, won by Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck, was the first of three straight days of grueling Alpine treks, which are likely to identify the top contenders to win the first Tour of the post-Lance Armstrong era.

Landis, the Phonak team leader, finished 1 minute and 10 seconds behind Schleck. He took an overall lead of 10 seconds over Spain’s Oscar Pereiro, who had held the yellow jersey and a lead of 1:29 over Landis since the 13th stage.

The 116-mile stage began in Gap and also took riders up the Col d’Izoard and the Col du Lautaret climbs.

World champion Tom Boonen of Belgium dropped out of the race after scaling the Col d’Izoard, which like the L’Alpe d’Huez is so tough that it defies classification in cycling’s ranking system.

Schleck, riding for Team CSC, pulled away from Damian Cunego of Italy over the last 1.2 miles to win his first Tour stage. Cunego was 11 seconds behind in second. Stefano Garzelli was third, 1:10 back.

Schleck, who won this year’s Amstel Gold Race, called his first Tour stage victory a “dream come true.”

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