Floyd Landis reclaimed the yellow jersey in the Tour de France yesterday with fourth place on the fifteenth stage, L'Alpe d'Huez, historically a significant marker in the sports toughest contest.
The American, riding for the Phonak team, took a ten- second advantage over previous leader Oscar Pereiro, who stays in touch in second overall.
The stage was won by Frank Schleck, who became the first rider from Luxembourg to win the famous stage by leaving Damiano Cunego behind with a late attack to take victory by ten seconds.
Landis was not involved in the early breakaway, with Belgian Axel Merckx tasked with ensuring Phonak had a representative at the head of the field.
The race favourite made his move late in the piece, attacking along with fellow contenders Carlos Sastre, of Team CSC, and Davitamon's Cadel Evans to chase down the rapidly diminishing lead group.
When he pushed for home on his own ten kilometres from the final, only T-Mobile's Andreas Kloden could respond.
"The plan was to take as much out of the guys who were close to me as possible," Landis said. "My job was to follow Kloden, and I got the jersey back, so there you go."
After Pereiro, the chasing pack of Cyril Dessel, Denis Menchov, Sastre, Kloden and Evans trail Landis by over two minutes but he refused to w rite off any of his challengers.
"You never know what's going to go on in the final week," he said. "The time differences are not that big yet, and I wouldn't write any of them off."
The result boosts for Landis' hopes of winning the Tour. On 20 of the 25 previous occasions L'Alpe d'Huez has featured in the event, the holder of the yellow jersey at the summit has gone on to claim overall victory. The 30-year-old left Sastre, Evans and Davitamon Rabobank's Denis Menchov - another of the leading contenders - trail-ing in his wake.
Delighted stage victor Schleck said: "It's crazy that I won, just amazing. It's huge to win here in L'Alpe d'Huez, it's a massive thing. My teammates David Zabriskie and Jens Voigt did a great job for me. I knew that if we came to the climb there would be a chance - and I made it."
David de la Fuente took 28 climbing points on the earlier ascents at Col d'Izoard and Col du Lautaret to take a commanding lead in the King of the Mountains positions, Schleck moving second on 74 p oints, 34 behind the Spaniard.
Withdrawing on the Col du Lautaret was Quickstep's Tom Boonen, who was second in the sprint category. Davitamon's Robbie McEwen leads the race for the green jersey by 45 points from Oscar Freire, of Rabobank.