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Philippe Gilbert (center) contested the sprint for second out of a nearly day-long breakaway. (©BMC/Tim de Waele.)
Philippe Gilbert (center) contested the sprint for second out of a nearly day-long breakaway. (©BMC/Tim de Waele.)

Tour de France, Stage 14: Evans Survives Tour Stage Sabotage

15. luglio 2012

Cadel Evans endured three wheel changes in a 10-minute span of Sunday's stage of the Tour de France as the result of tacks being thrown onto the road. But the race's defending champion was brought back after a furious chase by the BMC Racing Team and a gesture of sportsmanship by the peloton.

'It Was Dangerous'
BMC Racing Team President Jim Ochowicz said the sabotage of the stage endangered a lot of people's lives. "I don't know if they'll find the person who did it," he said. "But it was pretty stupid and it was dangerous. Several riders crashed as a result of the tacks." Evans's first flat tire occurred as the peloton was topping the final climb of the day, the Mur de Péguère, about 40 kilometers from the finish of the 191 km race. BMC Racing Team VIP coordinator Jacques Michaud, a Tour de France stage winner himself, made the first rear wheel change, using the Easton wheel of Amaël Moinard. Steve Cummings had actually reached Evans first, but his Continental tire had also been punctured by a tack. Two more flat tires on the way down the mountain were handled by the BMC Racing Team car, which caught up to Evans on the descent.

Wiggins Waited
Evans said he was disappointed the race fell victim to whomever spread the tacks on the road as a protest or to attract attention. "The main thing is that it happened to me three times and at crucial moments," he said. "Fortunately, we had George Hincapie, Michael Schär and Amaël – who went well beyond his limits today – along with Marcus Burghardt, and the chase was well organized." Race leader Bradley Wiggins said he told his Sky Procycling teammates to wait for Evans, who remains fourth overall, 3:19 off the race lead. "No one wants to benefit from someone's misfortune," Wiggins said. Evans arrived at the finish line in 16th place, with Wiggins and the rest of the peloton, 18:15 after the stage winner. BMC Racing Team's Tejay van Garderen, who did not get a flat tire, kept his lead in the best young rider competition and is seventh overall, 6:57 behind.

'We Didn't Panic'
BMC Racing Team Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said he admired the composure of the team. "We didn't panic," he said. "We came back with the whole group and Sky was really honest and didn't attack in the front. They were really fair. I went to Sean Yates at the end of the race to say I really appreciated it." Far up the road from the chaos, BMC Racing Team's Philippe Gilbert was contesting the sprint for second after the breakaway group he was riding in splintered on the final climb. Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) attacked the remnants of the break inside the final 12 km and soloed to the win. Gilbert was fourth to record his fourth top 10 finish of the three-week race.

Listen to complete comments from Evans (English), Gilbert (English and French) Hincapie (English), Lelangue (English and French) and Ochowicz (English) on the BMC Racing Team's Tour de France AudioLine: