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Roche 13th in Tour GC amid reports of course sabotage

Posted 15 July 2012

Nicolas Roche remains 13th overall in the Tour de France after a bizarre end to stage 14 which raised suspicions that the course had been sabotaged with tacks such were the number of punctures.

The 191 kilometres long stage from Limoux to Foix was won by Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) who soloed to victory from what remained of an eleven man break after a perfectly timed attack with 11.5 kilometres to go.
The break was initiated by green jersey holder Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) after 35 kilometres with wet weather conditions helping them to open a lead of 14’30” over the top of the first category Porto de Lers.
Sagan put up a tremendous performance on the final climb of the Mur de Peguere to reach the summit in the company of Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Saxo Bank) just five seconds behind Sandy Casar (FDJ).
They bridged the gap on the tricky descent with Sanchez and Philippe Gilbert (BMC) also getting across while the chasing group of race favourites did little to upset or threaten the overall lead of Bradley Wiggins (Sky).
Roche reached the summit near the wheel of the Briton with the prospect of anyone attacking have all but evaporated as that group set about tackling the descent and the final 40 kilometres.
There was some short-lived excitement when Cadel Evans (BMC) punctured at the top leaving him waiting for a teammate to provide a back wheel as the narrow climb held up both the neutral service and his team car.
Over a minute passed before one of the BMC riders came into sight only for Evans to discover that that rider had also punctured.
He lost even more time waiting for a wheel from the next team rider on the road before tackling the descent only to find it littered with riders who had experienced similar mechanicals.
A bike change was followed by a front wheel puncture and it took a decision by Wiggins to apply the unwritten rule of not profiting from bad luck to enable the Australian to regain contact.
Roche himself also punctured over the top of the climb and only managed to regain contact after a frantic chase assisted by teammates Mikael Cherel and Maxime Bouet.
Wiggins himself was next to puncture with a quick bike change adding to the general disarray.
Sanchez meanwhile was well on the road to a perfectly executed stage win having attacked the five leaders with 11.5 kilometres to go and the Spaniard had more than enough time to savour the moment.
Sagan won the sprint from the chase group ahead of Casar with the peloton following home over 18’15” amid reports that almost 30 tacks had been found on the descent off the mountain and debate about whether they should have raced or been so sporting.
Tour de France
Stage 14: Limoux - Foix, 191 kilometers
1.  Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team 4:50:29
2.  Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:47
3.  Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
4.  Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
5.  Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
6.  Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank 0:02:51
7.  Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
8.  Martin Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:03:49
9.  Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:04:51
10.  Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:04:53
28. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 18 minutes, 15 seconds
76. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 21 minutes, 19 seconds
General classification after stage 14:
1.  Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 64:41:16
2.  Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:02:05
3.  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:02:23
4.  Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:03:19
5.  Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:04:48
6.  Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:06:15
7.  Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:06:57
8.  Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:07:30
9.  Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:08:31
10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:08:51
13. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Monidale at 10 minutes, 49 seconds
65. Dan Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 1 hours, 20 minutes, 29 seconds

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