Wiggins warns of further Tour sabotage

Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins believes the sabotage of stage 14 yesterday – when tacks on the road caused a number of punctures in the peloton – showed how vulnerable riders are on the road and more severe incidents could yet occur.

Wiggins, reigning champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) as well as Ireland’s Nicolas Roche (Ag2r La Mondiale) were just some of the riders caught up in the carnage on the climb of Mur de Peguere on the 191-kilometre route from Limoux to Foix.

Jean-Francois Pescheux, competitions director of Tour organisers Amaury Sports Organisation, confirmed around 30 riders suffered punctures on the climb, with one — Robert Kiserlovski (Astana), crashing and abandoning following a suspected broken collarbone.

Following the drama, the stage was neutralised for a time to allow riders held up a chance to regain contact with the remnants of the peloton.

Wiggins said: “What can you do? It’s something we can’t control. There’s nothing stopping more of that sort of stuff happening.

“It’s sad. Those are the type of things we have to put up with as cyclists.

“I think people take that for granted sometimes, just how close they can get to us.

“If that happened in a football stadium, or wherever, you’d be arrested, CCTV.

“But we’re out there, quite vulnerable at times, very close to the public on climbs.”

“There’s nothing you can do about it. We just have to get on with it.”

Though several riders suffered punctures and demanded wheel changes, the overall contenders — save for Pierre Rolland (Europcar) refused to attack and waited for that front group of some 50 riders to re-group.

But Evans was held up for over a minute waiting for what turned out to be a very slow change of wheel.

Upon realising this, Wiggins, to his credit, ordered the peloton to stall and wait until he rejoined them.

Wiggins, who is seeking to become the Tour’s first British winner next Sunday, added: “So many guys punctured at once, it became quite apparent very quickly that something was up.

“I don’t know whether he (Rolland) knew or not. I knew straight away something had happened.

“I just thought it (Rolland’s attack) was a little bit uncouth at that time. The stage was gone, we’d been up the climb, which was very tough, no one went away, the race was over.

“It didn’t seem the honourable thing to do, to benefit from other people’s misfortune at a part of the race which was over.”

Wiggins enters today’s 158.5km 15th stage from Samatan to Pau with a lead of two minutes five seconds over Team Sky colleague Chris Froome, with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) 2:23secs adrift in third and Evans 3:19 back in fourth.

The day’s 11-man escape appeared unaffected by the fiasco – suggesting the tacks were laid between the groups – and eventual winner Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) made his solo bid for the line 11km from home to claim a fourth Tour stage success.

Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) was 47 seconds behind in second, Sandy Casar (FDJ-Bigmat) third, Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) fourth and Gorka Izaguirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) fifth.

Ireland’s other rider in the race, Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp), finished in a small group over 21 minutes down and is now 65th overall, one hour and 20 minutes down.

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