On Sunday, Stage 14 saw tacks and nails derail over 30 riders, causing chaos in the pack on their way from Limoux to Foix 47.
Now that Stage 15 is underway, most riders—including last year’s winner Cadel Evans—are hoping for a smoother, less eventful ride from Samatan to Pau.
This 158.5 km ride will feature three climbs—two category 4 climbs, and one category 3 climb—but the majority of the run should be flat.
Riders have the day off on Tuesday, so you can expect all of them—especially the ones who lost time due to flat tires on Stage 14—to ride all out to make up time. Stage 15 should be an interesting combination of sprints and climbs, and here are the three riders you should watch now, because they very well may be the winners of the 2012 Tour de France.
Bradley Wiggins has been leading the pack almost the entire race thus far, and he entered Stage 15, yet again, wearing the coveted yellow jersey.
Despite a flat tire, Wiggins finished Stage 14 still leading with a time of 64:41:16. The Brit not only had a commendable run from Limoux to Foix 47, but he also performed a commendable act. After last year’s winner Cadel Evans was forced to stop to fix his tire due to puncture holes from tacks that marred the course of Stage 14, Wiggins asked the main pack to slow down to give Evans a chance to make up the time he had lost.
Wiggins crashed out of the race last year with a broken collarbone. So far the Olympic track champion had rode a perfect race, and is the front-runner as he aims to become the first Brit to win the Tour de France.
Like Bradley Wiggins, Christopher Froome is a Brit on the Sky cycling team. So far, Froome has been happy to play second fiddle to Wiggins, respecting his team’s orders, but like all athletes, he wants to finish first.
Last Thursday, Froome seemed to want to prove that he is a stronger climber than Wiggins, going faster up to La Toussuire than Wiggins, until Team Sky’s director told him to slow down.
Since then, Froome has been diligently following instructions, blocking for Wiggins and allowing him to gain 2:05 minutes over Froome. However, after that climbing incident, it seems highly unlikely that Froome will sacrifice himself for Wiggins. If it comes down to the two of them—which based on their No. 1 and No. 2 standings, it very well may—we can expect Froome to forgo his allegiances to Wiggins and Team Sky and take the title for himself.
The winner of the 2011 Tour de France, Cadel Evans unfortunately lost precious time after someone tampered with the course of Stage 14, and marred it with tacks. It got to the point where the Australian had to get off of his bike and wait for help to arrive.
Luckily for Evans, his gracious opponent, Bradley Wiggins, asked the main pack to slow down, but Evans will still have to ride harder in Stage 15 if he wants to make up the 3:19 minutes that he is behind Wiggins.
Before switching to road racing, Evans used to be a mountain biker for the Diamondback MTB team, so we can expect him to make big moves on the climbs, and keep in contention for the 2012 Tour de France.