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Tour de France Stage 14: LL Sanchez wins from break, Sagan tightens his grip on green, tack sabotage causes chaos

Sabotage strikes Tour with tacks being spread on road but luckily peloton wasn't going full gas on the descent...

Luis Leon Sanchez of Rabobank attacked from the break today to win Stage 14 of the Tour de France in Foix, his fourth stage victory in the race. Also in the break were Peter Sagan of Liquigas-Cannondale, who finished second, 45 seconds down on the winner, to consolidate his grip on the green jersey. Behind, sabotage struck the Tour as a number of riders including maillot jaune Bradley Wiggins suffered punctures due to tacks being spread across the road on the descent from the Mur de Péguère, crested some 38.5 kilometres out.

Fortunately, the main group had slowed right down after defending champion Cadel Evans of BMC Racing had found himself stranded without assistance at the top of the climb after puncturing, otherwise the consequences could have been much worse - Astana's Robert Kiserloviski did however crash, suffering a suspected broken collarbone.

The only rider to attack from the peloton on that descent was Europcar's Pierre Rolland, although he subsequently eased off the pace, apparently due to team orders. With the racing effectively neutralised in the bunch, there was no change at the top of the overall standings as the group, including Evans, rolled across the line some 18 minutes after the winner.

Sagan had attacked from the peloton on the descent from the summit of the day’s first climb, the Category 3 Col du Portel, crested after just 30 kilometres of the 191 kilometre stage from Limoux, never a stage town until last year but now hosting its second successive edition of the race.

Amael Moinard of BMC racing and AG2R’s Biel Kadri were the first riders to join the Slovak, and a group of eight riders, including Sanchez, FDJ BigMat’s Anthony Roux, Gorka Izagirre of Euskaltel-Euskadi and another BMC rider, Philippe Gilbert also bridged across, the group building a lead of well over ten minutes as it approached the day’s intermediate sprint.

Unsurprisingly, it was Sagan who took maximum points on the line at Tarascon-sur-Ariège, though he didn’t get them entirely unopposed, Izagirre giving a show of going for them for the benefit of the cameras. The Liquigas-Cannondale rider’s second place to Sanchez at the end of the stage meaning he now has an almost unassailable lead of 97 points over André Greipel and a near-certainty to clinch the green jersey in his debut Tour de France.

For a while, today, it looked as though the 22-year-old might be heading for his fourth stage win in this year’s race. The break had been together as it headed up the first of the two Category 1 climbs on the day’s route, the Port de Lers, but on the tougher climb of the Mur de Péguère, with the last 3 kilometres including ramps of up to 18 per cent, it splintered as Sanchez went on the attack.

The Spaniard was joined by Izagirre, Gilbert and Casar, and the quartet appeared to have dropped Sagan as they headed towards the summit. The Liquigas Cannondale man dug in deep, however, and rode back across to them, Sanchez looking across incredulously as the younger rider drew level.

Sanchez’s eventual victory would owe much to his greater experience, as Sagan would acknowledge afterwards, the Rabobank rider catching him unawares as he let his guard drop while taking in some food ahead of the finale, and jumping off to ride solo to victory. It’s likely to be the first and last time anyone ever takes advantage of Sagan in that way.

The breakaway riders came down of the Mur de Péguère without incident, but it was a different story behind them in the main group, with 30 of the 50 riders reported to have punctured. First to do so was Evans, the Australian standing forlornly by the road as he waited for support, any lingering hopes of retaining his title seemingly evaporating until Team Sky, led by Wiggins, slowed the pace down at the front in a gesture applauded by race organisers ASO.

It’s just as well that they did – while the descent was not the most technical, conditions were wet, and the potential consequences of the peloton hurtling down that ascent full gas with tacks strewn across the road don’t bear thinking about. Meanwhile Evans, who went on to puncture again, may not have lost time today but is bound to have words with team mate Tejay Van Garderen, who is leading the best young rider’s classification, but admitted having ridden past his team leader without offeriing assistance.

On the way up that final climb, Richie Porte had ridden to the front of the bunch to help control the pace, and the tempo being set as well as the narrowness of the road and difficulty of the ascent, making its debut in the Tour, meant that none of Wiggins’ rivals was able to attack, although third placed Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas-Cannondale must surely have been planning something on the descent, given his rueful smile as he crossed the line at the end of the stage.

Earlier, there had been the unusual sight of world champion Mark Cavendish, yesterday awarded the accolade of the greatest sprinter the Tour de France has ever seen by French newspaper L’Equipe, leading the peloton up a Category 1 climb in the Pyrenees and back down the other side, the man who has put his own defence of the green jersey on hold doing his bit today to support Wiggins’ ambitions to keep the maillot jaune all the way to Paris.


Jean-Francois Pescheux, competitions director at Tour de France organiser ASO:

"We don't know who it was. No-one saw anything.

"We've found some of the tacks. They're the kind of tacks you use in mattresses or carpets. They were obviously thrown by a spectator.

"There were around 50 riders together in the front peloton at the top and about 30 of them ended up with punctures. Some of them had three or four nails in their tyres.

"We couldn't neutralise it straight away because we didn't know what had happened. Fortunately Team Sky neutralised the race."

Maillot jaune Bradley Wiggins, Team Sky:

"No one wants to see something like that have an impact on the race. As a group the thing to do was to wait, the stage win was over. The climb was over. There was nothing left to contest really.

"Everybody sees those situations differently but personally I wouldn't want to benefit from something like that. I thought the best thing to do is to wait.

"If you can't gain times on the climbs, then you don't do it when someone's punctured - not even when it's an ordinary puncture. So when it was something like what happened today, something external affecting the race, then it's even more so.

"There were so many punctures at once that it was obvious that something had happened.

"The climb was so narrow that the team cars were a long way back and waiting seemed the honourable thing to do."

Stage winner Luis Leon Sanchez of Rabobank:

“Since the start of the Tour I have never given up on the idea of being in breakaways in the hope of winning stage. I was injured during the first week, but I persisted. Not everything worked out in our favour at first but I knew that this stage was made for me; I really wanted to do something today.

“Of course, when I saw that Sagan and Gilbert were also in the break, I thought it would be almost impossible to beat them, and my only option was to attack from a long way out. This is why we accelerated with my team-mate [Kruiswijk] at the top of the Mur de Péguère, and then I attacked solo near the finish.

“I intend to keep trying to go in the breakaways and, why not, pick up another stage win. I also think about the Olympics, because I'm doing better and better right now and my wrist does not hurt anymore. I'd like to go to do something.

“I always have had trouble with very high mountains, and that is why it complicates things to aim for overall victory in a Grand Tour. I know that since Indurain, the Spanish mentality is to be interested mainly in three-week races. But I do not have the legs for this kind of feat, even though I already finished in the top 10. After all, I've won four stages on the Tour de France, and I intend to keep adding more.”

Tejay Van Garderen, BMC Racing, leader of the best young rider’s classification:

“I heard Cadel had a puncture but I wasn't quite sure what the situation was. I thought we had another team-mate in there but in hindsight I should have waited for him. It was loud and chaotic and could kind of gather than he had a puncture but I wasn't sure...

“Like I said, I thought we had more team-mates in there and I didn't hear much over the radio. There was just shouting and it was kind of chaotic. It was sort of like someone threw some tacks on the road or something but I'm not sure exactly.”

Tour de France Stage 14 result  

1  SANCHEZ Luis-Leon        RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM        04h 50' 29''
2  SAGAN Peter              LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE            + 00' 47''
3  CASAR Sandy              FDJ-BIGMAT
4  GILBERT Philippe         BMC RACING TEAM
6  PAULINHO Sergio          TEAM SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK    + 02' 51''
7  MINARD Sébastien         AG2R LA MONDIALE
8  VELITS Martin            OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP        + 03' 49''
9  VORGANOV Eduard          KATUSHA TEAM                   + 04' 51''
10 KRUIJSWIJK Steven        RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM          + 04' 53''
11 GAUTIER Cyril            TEAM EUROPCAR
12 MATE Luis Angel          COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE     + 18' 15''
13 SIMON Julien             SAUR-SOJASUN
14 CHEREL Mikael            AG2R LA MONDIALE
15 WIGGINS Bradley          SKY PROCYCLING
16 EVANS Cadel              BMC RACING TEAM
19 FEILLU Brice             SAUR-SOJASUN
20 FROOME Christopher       SKY PROCYCLING

Last man home on Stage 14  

162 KERN Christophe         TEAM EUROPCAR                05h 22' 22''

General Classification after Stage 14  

1  WIGGINS Bradley          SKY PROCYCLING               64h 41' 16''
2  FROOME Christopher       SKY PROCYCLING                 + 02' 05''
3  NIBALI Vincenzo          LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE            + 02' 23''
4  EVANS Cadel              BMC RACING TEAM                + 03' 19''
5  VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen    LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM             + 04' 48''
6  ZUBELDIA Haimar          RADIOSHACK-NISSAN              + 06' 15''
7  VAN GARDEREN Tejay       BMC RACING TEAM                + 06' 57''
8  BRAJKOVIC Janez          ASTANA PRO TEAM                + 07' 30''
9  ROLLAND Pierre           TEAM EUROPCAR                  + 08' 31''
10 PINOT Thibaut            FDJ-BIGMAT                     + 08' 51'

Points Classification after Stage 14  

1  SAGAN Peter              LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE             333 pts
2  GREIPEL André            LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM              236 pts
3  GOSS Matthew Harley      ORICA GREENEDGE                 203 pts
4  CAVENDISH Mark           SKY PROCYCLING                  129 pts
5  BOASSON HAGEN Edvald     SKY PROCYCLING                  125 pts

Mountains Classification after Stage 14  

1  KESSIAKOFF Fredrik       ASTANA PRO TEAM                 69 pts
2  ROLLAND Pierre           TEAM EUROPCAR                   55 pts
3  SORENSEN Chris Anker     TEAM SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK     39 pts
4  VOECKLER Thomas          TEAM EUROPCAR                   33 pts
5  SCARPONI Michele         LAMPRE - ISD                    33 pts

Best Young Rider's Classification after Stage 14  

1  VAN GARDEREN Tejay       BMC RACING TEAM             64h 48' 13''
2  PINOT Thibaut            FDJ-BIGMAT                    + 01' 54''
3  SAGAN Peter              LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE           + 40' 35''
4  KRUIJSWIJK Steven        RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM         + 41' 37''
5  TAARAMAE Rein            COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE    + 52' 02''

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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