SAN DIEGO, July 15, 2012 – The breakaway stage 14 victory for Spanish rider Luis Leon Sanchez and the battered Rabobank team at today’s Tour de France was marred by a saboteur or perhaps simply a common hooligan.
Thirty riders suffered flat tires due to punctures by tacks, nails or something apparently strewn across the road. GC contender Cadel Evans got the worst of it, falling victim to three different flat tires.
The worst incident for Evans was at the top of the second climb of the day, when Evans’ team car and the neutral support vehicles were nowhere in sight. Neither were any of Evans’ teammates. He waved furiously and finally got a tire swapped out. It was only one minute and 15 seconds, but this is an eternity when you are fighting to get back minutes on the leading riders.
Tour leader Bradley Wiggins also had a flat, but got a quick wheel change and was back on the road in no time. As he and the Sky Racing team learned of what had to be a deliberate act, he slowed the leading group’s speed to allow Evans and the BMC team to catch up, a generous act of sportsmanship.
Astana rider Robert Kiserlovski crashed after the top of the summit, which appears to have been caused by the tacks on the road. He had to leave the race for medical treatment and may have suffered some broken bones. There are now 162 riders left in the Tour.
Race director Jean-Francois Pecheux commended Wiggins and Sky for not taking advantage of the circumstances. Pecheux said on French television that officials have asked the police to investigate, but admitted the search for whoever was responsible would be difficult due to the large holiday weekend crowds on the roadsides today.
A breakaway group including Peter Sagan of Liquigas-Cannondale and Sanchez got away and stayed away. They also escaped the situation with the sabotage on the roads. Sagan proved he is not just a sprinter, but quite a good climber. At 22 he has a bright future ahead on the grand tour cycling circuit and will certainly win a Tour someday.
But Sanchez stepped on the gas and won the stage. His Rabobank team is down to just four riders due to injuries after having high hopes for this year’s race. It was his fourth stage victory and a morale boost for the team. And there isn’t a Spaniard riding who doesn’t take special pleasure in winning a stage in the Pyrenees.
Today’s top finishers were:
1. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spain) Rabobank
2. Peter Sagan (Slovakia) Liquigas-Cannondale
3. Sandy Casar (France) FDJ-Big Mat
4. Philippe Gilbert (Belarus) BMC
5. Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spain) Euskaltel - Euskadi
6. Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Portugal) Saxo Bank
7. Sébastien Minard (France) AG2R La Mondiale
8. Martin Velits (Slovakia) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
9. Eduard Vorganov (Russia) Katusha
10. Steven Kruijswijk (Netherlands) Rabobank
No change in the overall leaders list after Stage 14:
1. Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) Sky 64:41:16
2. Christopher Froome (Great Britain) Sky 2:05
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) Liquigas-Cannondale 2:23
4. Cadel Evans (Australia) BMC 3:19
5. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Belgium) Lotto-Belisol 4:48
6. Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spain) RadioShack-Nissan Trek 6:15
7. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC 6:57
8. Janez Brajkovic (Slovakia) Astana 7:30
9. Pierre Rolland (France) Europcar 8:31
10. Thibaut Pinot (France) FDJ-Big Mat 8:51
Peter Sagan is 97 points ahead of second place Andre Griepel for the green sprinter’s jersey. He can lose it now only if he leaves the Tour. He also picked up the most aggressive rider’s jersey as a result today. Tejay van Garderen remains in the young rider’s white jersey; Fredrik Kessiakoff keeps the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey.
Monday’s Stage 15 is a recovery stage, with a few small hills but relatively easy after the first few days in the Pyrenees. It will allow some recovery for the GC contenders, and let the sprinters have their fun at the finish. Tuesday is a rest day before two challenging mountain stages in the high Pyrenees that should make or break the leaders, followed by the last time trial on Saturday, July 21. These three stages will decide the 2012 Tour de France.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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