Tour de France Diary, Stage 14: Saboteurs cause chaos for Evans, field
Cadel Evans punctures as saboteurs hit the Tour de France (Image: AFP / Fred Mons)
Cadel Evans was forced to wait by the road with three separate tyre punctures for more than two minutes after nail throwers hit the 2012 Tour de France overnight, causing mayhem.
Last night the peloton completed stage 14, the first of the Pyrenean stages at this year’s Tour de France – a 191km ride from Limoux to Foix.
Conditions went from sunny at kilometre zero to overcast and drizzly come the mid-point of proceedings.
Three categorised climbs, including two back-to-back category one ascents near the finish, qualified the day’s racing as a medium mountain stage – the majority of which went by without incident.
There was a breakaway that hovered 14 to 16 minutes up the road and each member of the top 10 overall was safely ensconced in the main field.
Then all hell broke loose, as countless riders suffered flat tyres for no immediately apparent reason at the summit of the Mur de Péguère in farcical scenes.
But there was a reason.
Small nails or tacks had been scattered on the road – presumably by spectators.
The man worst affected was Australian contender Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), who required three wheel changes in quick succession.
Forced to wait under the polka dot banner for more than a minute, one could not blame Evans for getting hot under the collar – his team car was nowhere to be seen.
What else could possibly go wrong for the defending Tour champion?
BMC domestique Amael Moinard reached his team leader first, but an issue with the Frenchman’s rear tyre prevented Evans from swapping it onto his own bike.
More waiting around at the top of the climb ensued until – finally – the Australian sourced a new wheel.
Evans endured two further flats on the descent. It was a nightmarish series of events.
What made things worse was that BMC appeared to be preparing for an attack on the technical downhill run off the mountain.
Bradley Wiggins (Sky Pro Cycling) was one of many others to suffer similar problems, the difference being that his one wheel change was completed in well under 10 seconds.
Evans’ largely ineffectual attack on the way up the Mur de Péguère seemed a distant memory as the 35-year-old worked alongside his team to bridge the gap between he and the peloton.
With the notable exception of ninth-placed Pierre Rolland (Europcar), the main field (led by Sky) showed great sportsmanship by slowing down for Evans.
Rolland instead chose to attack, forcing Lotto-Belisol and Liquigas-Cannondale to chase in the interests of Jurgen Van Den Broek and Vincenzo Nibali respectively.
Fortunately the Frenchman was caught with enough distance remaining for the peloton to mutually agree to turn off all cylinders.
Rolland will surely receive some harsh words for what was either a woeful lack of awareness or an act of selfish opportunism.
The tack pandemonium should not be allowed to overshadow the efforts of escape artiste Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank), who won the stage after attacking from the break.
Sanchez was one of four surviving members of what was originally an 11-man leading group. The other three were green jersey holder Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), Sandy Casar (FDJ-Big Mat) and Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing).
It was a remarkable show of mental and physical fortitude by Sanchez, who is still recovering from the broken wrist he suffered on stage one.
Earlier, Sagan took maximum points at the intermediate sprint in Tarascon-sur-Ariège.
The Slovak’s second-place finish on the stage further extended his lead in the classification to a whopping 97 points.
Greipel was the first member of the main field to the sprint point, crossing in ninth and scoring seven points.
Stage 12 “Give Him the Game Ball” award winner Robert Kiserlovski (Astana) was forced to abandon the race after a crash on the final descent.
Tomorrow’s stage 15 from Samatan to Pau should be an opportunity for the sprinters, but the rolling terrain could prove conducive to a breakaway.
Tour de France Stage 14 Results
Rider, Team, Points
1. SANCHEZ Luis Leon, RABOBANK, 04h 50′ 29″
2. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 04h 51′ 16″ + 00′ 47″
3. CASAR Sandy, FDJ-BIG MAT, 04h 51′ 16″ + 00′ 47″
4. GILBERT Philippe, BMC RACING, 04h 51′ 16″ + 00′ 47″
5. IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI Gorka, EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI, 04h 51′ 16″ + 00′ 47″
6. PAULINHO Sergio, SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK, 04h 53′ 20″ + 02′ 51″
7. MINARD Sebastien, AG2R LA MONDIALE, 04h 53′ 20″ + 02′ 51″
8. VELITS Martin, OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK-STEP, 04h 54′ 18″ + 03′ 49″
9. VORGANOV Eduard, KATUSHA, 04h 55′ 20″ + 04′ 51″
10. KRUIJSWIJK Steven, RABOBANK, 04h 55′ 22″ + 04′ 53″
Tour de France Points Classification
Rider, Team, Points
1. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 333
2. GREIPEL Andre, LOTTO-BELISOL, 236
3. GOSS Matthew Harley, ORICA-GREENEDGE, 203
4. CAVENDISH Mark, SKY PRO CYCLING, 129
5. BOASSON HAGEN Edvald, SKY PRO CYCLING, 125
Tour de France KOM Classification
Rider, Team, Points
1. KESSIAKOFF Fredrik, ASTANA, 69
2. ROLLAND Pierre, EUROPCAR, 55
3. SORENSEN Chris Anker, SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK, 39
4. VOECKLER Thomas, EUROPCAR, 33
5. SCARPONI Michele, LAMPRE-ISD, 33
Tour de France Overall Standings
Rider, Team, Time, Gaps
1. WIGGINS Bradley, SKY PROCYCLING, 64h 41’ 16″
2. FROOME Christopher, SKY PRO CYCLING, 64h 43’ 21″ + 02′ 05″
3. NIBALI Vincenzo, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 64h 43’ 39″ + 02′ 23″
4. EVANS Cadel, BMC RACING, 64h 44’ 35″ + 03′ 19″
5. VAN DEN BROEK Jurgen, OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK-STEP, 64h 46’ 04″ + 04′ 48″
6. ZUBELDIA Haimar, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 64h 47’ 31″ + 06′ 15″
7. VAN GADREREN Tejay, BMC RACING, 64h 48’ 13″ + 06′ 57″
8. BRAJKOVIC Janez, ASTANA, 64h 48’ 46″ + 07′ 30″
9. ROLLAND Pierre, EUROPCAR, 64h 49’ 47″ + 08′ 31″
10. PINOT Thibaut, FDJ-BIG MAT, 64h 50’ 07″ + 08′ 51″
Stage 14 “Give Him the Game Ball” Award: The peloton – for showing outstanding sportsmanship in sitting up to wait for Cadel Evans in unique, thumb tack induced circumstances.
— Cadel Evans (@CadelOfficial) July 15, 2012
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