Tour De France Stage 14 Limoux – Foix

16/07/2012   |   Posted by jeremy

Stage 14 Limoux – Foix  191km

Yesterday’s stage saw the riders heading for the Pyrenees Mountains with a category 2 climb and two category 1 climbs. Part of the joy of the Tour de France for me is the fabulous scenery that you get to see from the television coverage. You get the fantastic close up action shots from the backs of the motorbikes, as well as the unbelievably beautiful landscapes that you get, courtesy of the helicopters. Both Eurosport and ITV4 provide us with excellent commentary in the shape of the presenters such as Phil Liggett and Gary Imlach as well as David Harmon and Sean Kelly.

These guys are all very knowledgeable and they have a very relaxing an often humorous style about their reporting of any race. They not only inform us on all the things happening in the race, but quite often they tell us about the history of the area we are in and the sights we can see through the cameras. I would like to thank them all for their work over the years, long may it continue.

The first half of this stage was passed without any drama.  There was an eleven man breakaway that took off pretty much as soon as the departure flag had been waved, and were still out there when they reached the intermediate sprint. This group included Peter Sagan of Liquigas, who having looked behind him a couple of times realised that he would not be contested for the points over line so rolled over at a steady pace followed line a stern by the other ten.

As the breakaway group reached the summit of the first big climb of the day, the Port de Lers, the weather was closing in. Saxo Bank’s Sergio Paulinho was the first man over the top of the climb and when the peloton came over 14 minutes later, it was Sky that led the yellow jersey group.

The Riders were all over safely, but there seemed to be more concern for the next big climb of the day, the Mur de Peguere. Another category 1 climb that was very steep in places but also extremely narrow. At the start of the climb it was Luis Leon Sanchez of Rabo Bank that made the move and put the others in the breakaway under pressure.  His aim was to put a gap between himself and Peter Sagan. He needed time because he knew once on the descent he could be caught easily by Sagan if he didn’t have enough road between them. However the strategy didn’t pay off because Sagan managed to ride up to his back wheel.

Once over the top it was Sagan that put the hammer down, in an amazing display of bike handling skills he was touching 60 mph on the descent. The rest of the breakaway were not far away and all of them putting time on the Peloton.

Meanwhile back in the yellow jersey group at the start of the climb, it was Mark Cavendish who was leading the way for Sky in his new domestique role. Sandy Casar of FDJ was the first man over the summit, shortly followed by the others.

Back in the Peloton it was Sky that took the lead with the top three riders of the Tour near the front. At the summit the real drama of the day started to unfold. Cadel Evans had a rear wheel puncture and was calling for help, but because of the narrowness of the climb, the support vehicles were nowhere to be seen. He stood there for ages with his back wheel out waiting and eventually one of his team mates stopped. It was Steve Cummings but he was no help either as he also had a rear wheel flat. Now the two of them stood there. Finally he got a wheel and he was away, with George Hincapie helping him on the descent. He had to stop again for another rear wheel, meaning he was now at least two minutes down on the Peloton. He was not the only rider to puncture like this. There were at least four other riders also with the same problem and it was starting to look like sabotage by someone.  Bradley Wiggins was talking to the other riders to slow the Peloton, to allow Evans to catch up. This is a very sporting gesture and one that is not uncommon in the Tour when something like this happens. Most of the riders did slow, except Pierre Rolland of Europcar who decided to carry on chasing down the lead group. I don’t think he will be a very popular man today.

Unbelievably not only did Wiggins had to stop for a bike change but Evans had to stop again, this time to change his front wheel.

At the front of the race Sanchez made a break for it with 8km to go, pulling away quickly from his group.

BMC were looking like they were doing a team time trial as they fought to get Evans back up to the yellow jersey group. The Peloton caught up Pierre Rolland and passed him without even looking at him.

The man at the front, Sanchez was well clear of everyone and came home in first place having time trialled his way to the finish line over the last 5km. Second place man was Peter Sagan who crossed the line 45 seconds after the winner and he was closely followed by Phillipe Gilbert of BMC.

The main field more or less neutralised the stage by slowing even further so that Evans could catch up. They all crossed the finish line as one group.

After the stage it was confirmed that carpet tacks had been thrown onto the road near the summit of the last climb. There were a number of casualties with one rider being taken to hospital, having fallen as a result and breaking his collar bone.  Even team cars and some of the press motorbikes didn’t escape the problems of the tacks.

It was an unusual day at the Tour. It showed us that despite the acts of an idiot who is prepared to put lives in danger, the spirit of the sport shone through with the Gentlemanly behaviour of the rest or most of the riders allowing fair play to rule the day.

 

 

Rank

Name

Team

Time

1

Bradley Wiggins

Team Sky

64hrs 41mins 16secs

2

Chris Froome

Team Sky

+2mins 05secs

3

Vincenzo Nibali

Liquigas-Cannondale

+2min 23secs

4

Cadel Evans

BMC Racing

+3mins 19secs

5

Jurgen Van Den Broeck

Lotto-Belisol

+4mins 48secs

6

Haimar Zubeldia

RadioShack-Nissan

+6mins 15secs

7

Tejay Van Garderen

BMC Racing

+6mins 57secs

8

Janez Brajkovic

Astana

+7mins 30secs

9

Pierre Rolland

Europcar

+8mins 31secs

10

Thibaut Pinot

FDJ-BigMat

+8mins 51secs

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