Paris, July 16 - Sabotage in the form of tacks thrown on the road during the day's final climb marred stage 14 of the Tour de France, leaving more than 30 cycles punctured.
Rabobank's Spanish rider Luis Leon Sanchez clinched victory on a day when yellow jersey holder Bradley Wiggins of Britain showed great character by waiting for defending champion Cadel Evans. The Australian was the biggest casualty as his rear tyre got punctured at the end of the climb.
With no teammates around and the team car way behind, Evans had to wait close to a minute for a tyre change. The peloton meanwhile, headed by the Wiggins' Sky team slowed down after hearing of Evans' misfortune.
"What can you do? It's something we can't control. It's sad but those are the type of things we have to put up with as cyclists. If that happened in a football stadium or wherever, you'd be arrested and seen on CCTV. But we are out there quite vulnerable at times, very close to the public on climbs," Wiggins was quoted as saying by Daily Mail.
"There is nothing to stop more of that stuff happening. We're just riders at the end of the day and we're there to be shot at. Literally. I just thought it was the honourable thing to do to wait for Cadel. No one wants to benefit from someone else's misfortune."
Wiggins though was critical of Europcar rider Pierre Rolland, who attacked when the peloton was waiting for Evans. Rolland, who started the day in ninth position, soon opened a two minute gap to the peloton but later sat up and was caught by the yeloow jersey group.
"I thought it was a little bit uncouth at that time. So many guys punctured at once, it became quite apparent very quickly that something was up. He didn't just attack once, he attacked twice. It didn't seem very honourable."
Jean-Francois Pescheux, competitions director of Tour organisers Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO), said: "We've found some of the tacks. They are the kind you find in mattresses or carpets. Some of the riders had three or four nails in their tyres. They are imbeciles to have done this. What else can you say?" (IANS)
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