SAINT JEAN DE MAURIENNE (France) (AFP) Andy Schleck promised a duel of epic proportions with Alberto Contador in the Pyreneean stages of this years Tour de France after defiantly taking the race lead Tuesday. Schleck, a climbing specialist who rides for Saxo Bank, started the day 20sec down on overnight leader Cadel Evans but finished the tough ninth stage with the yellow jersey on his back for the first time in his career. As Evans struggled to keep pace on the 25.5km climb over the legendary Madeleine riding with a fractured arm, Schleck spent the latter half of the ascension trying to shake Contador off his wheel. The Spaniard, a two-time winner who has also won the Tours of Italy and Spain, was not for shaking and eventually the pair finished the race together to leave many of their rivals even further off the pace. Schleck now holds a 41sec lead on Contador ahead of four days in the Pyrenees. When they are over, the penultimate stage time trial could still decide the race. Up until recently Contador has been considered unbeatable on the Grand Tours, having won the last four in which he has competed. Schleck, however, is confident he can give the Spaniard something to chew on when the race heads back up to high altitude on Sunday. Its possible that he might be stronger in the Pyrenees than here in the Alps, but so will I, said Schleck, whose brother Frank crashed out of the race on stage three. I still think the Pyrenees will decide the Tour, but its easier for me now because I have only one rider to look after. I dont think other riders can come back into us. After only two stages in the high mountains the 10-strong field that started the race with big ambitions now have to eat humble pie in what has quickly become a two-horse race. Euskaltels Samuel Sanchez, the Olympic champion, is a surprise third at 2:45, Russias Denis Menchov is fourth at 2:58 and Belgian Jurgen Van den Broeck is fifth at 3:31. Other podium contenders include American Levi Leipheimer, sixth at 3:59, Dutchman Robert Gesink, seventh at 4:22, and Ivan Basso, 10th at 5:09. Carlos Sastre, the 2008 champion, is 15th at 7:13, Britains Bradley Wiggins 14th at 7:18 and Evans 18th overall at 7:47. Schleck played catch-up to Contador for most of last years race after the Spaniard struck early in the Alps to take time off his rivals. The Luxemburger added: The difference from this year to last year was that I am ahead of him on GC (general classification), not the other way round, he added. If he wants to win this, hes got to attack me. Contador hit back after the stage: I know what my aim is now, and which wheel I have to follow Andy Schlecks. But Schleck, who raced ahead of Contador on the eighth stage to win at Morzine-Avoriaz on Sunday, believes there are chinks in Contadors armour. Two days ago he was a little bit weaker. It looks like hes a little bit up and down, Schleck added. I hope I can attack one of his weak days so that I can gain more time on him. I really think Ill be better in the Pyrenees than him.