2012 Tour De France Stage 14: Sabotage and Sportsmanship Shade Sanchez Victory

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2012 Tour De France Stage 14: Sabotage and Sportsmanship Shade Sanchez Victory
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Sabotage marred Stage 14 of the 2012 Tour de France as race radio and The Telegraph reported tacks on the road playing havoc with riders and saw Cadel Evans require assistance on no less than four occasions.

The stage featured two Category 1 climbs over the Port de Lers and the previously unchallenged Mur de Peguere and a long fast run to the finish line.

Out at the front a breakaway group established early, as is tradition, that included some of cycling’s elite—although not necessarily Tour contenders—joined by a cheeky upstart in the green jersey.

Philippe Gilbert, Sandy Casar and Louis Leon Sanchez were joined by the unlikely figure of Peter Sagan, the man who is leading the sprinter’s point classification. Sagan somehow stayed in touch over both of the monster climbs.

The real story of the day, however, had nothing to do with the head of the race.

It had everything to do with a spate of flat tires apparently brought about by some tool spreading tacks on the road, but also a rare example of the sportsmanship that occasionally pays a visit to the Tour de France.

Cadel Evans had the day from Hell.

He suffered a puncture as he approached the summit of the final climb and because the peloton had become strung out, there was no service car available to help him. Sadly, neither was there a teammate and when one did appear, he too had a puncture and couldn’t pass on his wheel to Evans.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Another tough day for Cadel

Not that the misfortune ended there.

Evans had to change the rear wheel again—the footage of the mechanic falling over in the ditch will become a YouTube sensation—and then had a front wheel puncture.

Meanwhile Bradley Wiggins held his group to try to allow Evans to catch up, however the run of bad luck meant that the group couldn’t continue to wait because Europcar’s Pierre Rolland chose an opportune moment to try to gain some time.

Whether Rolland wasn’t aware what was happening, chose an opportune moment to have a language issue, but eventually the message got through and Rolland ended up back in the pack about a minute before Evans and the BMC team caught up and also rejoined the bunch.

Most disturbingly, Astana rider, Robert Kiserlovski, crashed not long after the summit and was taken to hospital with a suspected broken collarbone according to The Telegraph's live blog. If that was as a result of a puncture brought about by a tack, the idiot responsible should face criminal charges.

Luis Leon Sanchez comfortably won the stage ahead of the remarkable Peter Sagan, but neither will get the press that they deserve as the story will be the sabotage and the sportsmanship.

Wiggins, Team Sky, and every other team who took part did the sport justice and showed the respect that Cadel Evans, as last year’s winner, deserved. With all of the bad press that cycling gets, you would hope that this story gets the coverage it deserves.

Tomorrow, however, all bets are off and the race will be back on in earnest. They’ll all be enemies again.

Standings after Stage 14 (courtesy letour.fr)

1.

WIGGINS Bradley

Sky Procycling

64h 41' 16''

2.

FROOME Christopher

Sky Procycling

+ 02' 05''

3.

NIBALI Vincenzo

Liquigas

+ 02' 23''

4.

EVANS Cadel

BMC

+ 03' 19''

5.

VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen

Lotto-Belisol

+ 04' 48''

6.

ZUBELDIA Haimar

Radioshack-Nissan

+ 06' 15''

7.

VAN GARDEREN Tejay

BMC

+ 06' 57''

8.

BRAJKOVIC Janez

Astana

+ 07' 30''

9.

ROLLAND Pierre

Europcar

+ 08' 31''

10.

PINOT Thibaut

FDJ-BigMat

+ 08' 51''

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