NAILS and pins on the road caused chaos in the peloton, forcing wheel changes to 30 riders and puncturing Cadel Evans’ tires thrice, and the leaders agreed not to launch an attack in Stage 14 of the Tour de France from Limoux to Foix.
Yellow jersey Bradley Wiggins recognized it was sabotage and the British rider ordered the peloton to slow down. Evans, fourth in the general classification, had to wait long to get his rear wheel replaced but then suffered two more punctures as he tried to rejoin the pack.
Race officials later on Sunday said spectators must have thrown the nails and pins on the road on the final descent of the day, some 40 kilometers from the finish.
Spain’s Luis Leon Sanchez was part of an early attack, 11 riders charging up the day’s first climb and building leads of as much as 12 minutes.
Clueless of the drama in the main pack, Sanchez and four others continued to pad the lead and the Spaniard made his solo move in the final few kilometers and finished the 191-km race in four hours, 50 minutes and 29 seconds.
Slovakia’s Peter Sagan finished 47 seconds later for second place, with Frenchman Sandy Casar third with the same clocking.
The pack checked in over 18 minutes after the stage winner.
The order at the top of the overall standings were unchanged, with Wiggins keeping his 2:05 lead over fellow British rider Chris Froome, 2:23 over Vincenzo Nibali of Italy and 3:19 over Evans.
Stage 15, featuring three minor climbs, is a 158.5-km ride 15 from Samatan to Pau.