Cadel Evans victim of Tour tack attack
Sportsmanship from race leader Brad Wiggins and strong BMC teamwork mean a tack attack failed to damage Cadel Evans’ Tour de France campaign.
The same cannot be said for Robert Kiserlovski’s collarbone, Pierre Rolland’s standing among his fellow riders or road cycling’s reputation as a fan-friendly sport.
Evans’ already-fraught Tour de France title defence threatened to unravel after he suffered three punctures because of tacks strewn on the road.
It was unclear who was responsible, but race organisers ASO said they would take legal action if possible.
Approximately 30 riders, four Tour vehicles and three support motorcycles suffered punctures or finished the stage with tacks embedded in their wheels.
“You’re in a bike race and people can see something they can gain, whether it’s a protest or something they can gain from you as someone who’s reasonably well-known,” Evans said.
“Hopefully … karma comes around.”
The sabotage was particularly dangerous because the tacks were on the road as the riders started a 70km/h descent.
The first indication that this straightforward stage had changed dramatically was vision from the top of the Mur de Peguere climb, 152km into the 191km stage.
Evans was off his bike and gesturing in frustration as he waited more than a minute for a wheel change.
Teammate Steve Cummings arrived, but he also had a puncture, then Amael Moinard was able to help his leader.
By then, the group containing Wiggins was well into the descent.
Evans would puncture twice more and team owner Jim Ochowicz fell down a roadside ditch as he tried to help him.
It looked funny, but no-one at the BMC team was laughing.
Evans’ teammates went into overdrive as they helped bring him back to the Wiggins group.
Early in the descent, Kiserlovski had a collision as he tried to help a teammate who had flatted and the Croatian was hospitalised with his collarbone fracture.
Wiggins, who had to change bikes on the descent because of a mechanical problem, soon was aware that something big was wrong.
Following road cycling etiquette, the yellow jersey holder took control and his group – which contained all Evans’ main rivals – dropped the pace.
But Rolland, the winner of stage 11, apparently did not know about the unofficial truce.
The Frenchman attacked, gaining two minutes as he tried to improve on his ninth placing overall.
The Lotto-Belisol and Liquigas-Cannondale teams gave chase, briefly putting further pressure on Evans, and several riders rebuked Rolland once his ill-advised adventure ended.
Rolland later apologised, stressing he did not know of the mass punctures.
The tack attack happened two days after Wiggins suffered slight burns to his arm, thanks to fans letting off flares.
“If it happened in a football stadium they would be seen on TV and arrested, but we are so close to the public out there,” Wiggins said of Sunday’s drama.
“We are there to be shot at… literally.”
Meanwhile Spaniard Luis Leon Sanchez saved the Tour for the injury-ravaged Rabobank team by winning the stage.
Sanchez broke clear of four other breakaway riders with 11km left and the peloton finished more than 18 minutes later.© AAP 2013