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Luis Leon Sanchez Wins for Rabobank in Sabotaged Tour de France Stage 14

By Chris Jasurek
Epoch Times Staff
Created: July 15, 2012 Last Updated: July 17, 2012
Related articles: Sports » Cycling
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Luis Leon Sanchez of Rabobank celebrates winning Stage Fourteen of the 2012 Tour de France. (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Luis Leon Sanchez of Rabobank celebrates winning Stage Fourteen of the 2012 Tour de France. (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Luis Leon Sanchez found the strength to launch the winning attack after 180 kilometers of hard climbing and chasing, to win Stage 14 of the 2012 Tour de France for Rabobank after more than half the team was wiped out by accidents.

Sanchez joined a group of eight riders which chased down the first thee attackers who managed to escape: Peter Sagan, on his second attempt, got away on the descent from the day’s first climb. The Liquigas rider, with Sergio Paulinho (Saxo Bank) and Steven Kruijswijk (Rabobank) managed to open gap after 35 km of racing.

Sanchez and seven others: Eduard Vorganov (Katusha,) Sandy Casar (FDJ,) Philippe Gilbert (BMC,) Cyril Gautier (Europcar,) Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel,) Sebastien Minard (Ag2R) and Martin Velits (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) caught the three leaders with 132 km left in the stage.

This group fractured on the final Cat 1 climb, the Mur de Peguere (9.7 km at 8 percent with 18 percent ramps,) with Sanchez, Casar, Izagirre, and Gilbert surging ahead, and Vorganov, Kruijswijk, and Sagan struggling.

Sagan surprised everyone by fighting his way back to the front just before the top of the climb. On the descent, Casar took the lead, with Sagan and Izagirre in tow. Sagan predictably moved into the lead but couldn’t drop the other two. Gilbert and Sanchez rode steadily to recatch this leading trio, managing with 14 km left in the stage.

Sanchez should have been exhausted by the chase, but the Rabobank rider realized that Sagan could beat them all if it came to a sprint, so with 11.5 km to go, Sanchez launched an attack of his own. He rode so powerfully he opened a gap of 25 second in five kilometers, and cruised home with the stage win.

After losing five of his eight Tour teammates to injuries, and after trying hard to win Stage 13 only to get shut down by Bradley Wiggins, who wanted the win for his teammate Edvald Boasson-Hagen, the victory in Stage 14 was a huge morale boost for Sanchez and his team.

Steven Kruijswijk, also recovering from a crash, finished tenth, giving Rabobank just that much more to be happy about.

Sanchez himself was injured in the Stage Six mass crash, and rode the first week with a cast on his wrist. To come back and score a stage win (his fourth,) after he and his team had all been hurt, motivated the Rabobank rider to do more.

“This was a very important victory, which was certainly achieved with the help of the whole team,” Sanchez told the Rabobsport website. “Not only Steven [Kruijswijk], who helped me fantastically today. It is very nice to have a teammate with you during such a breakaway. But the team has kept together, despite all the setbacks and that also feels like an enormous support.”

“This win came at a good moment for me as well as for the team, of course. We’ve got another week to go before Paris and this certainly gives us the motivation to make more out of it. Of course there are only four of us left, but the unity is quite good in our team. This really is an award for all of us, also for the riders who are already back home.”

Peter Sagan of Liquigas-Cannondale leads the breakaway along with Luis Leon Sanchez (C) Steven Kruijswijk (L) of Rabobank during Stage Fourteen. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Peter Sagan of Liquigas-Cannondale leads the breakaway along with Luis Leon Sanchez (C) Steven Kruijswijk (L) of Rabobank during Stage Fourteen. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Liquigas has reason to be happy, too. Peter Sagan, considered to o big and heavy to climb, proved everyone that he has abilities no one imagined. He can sprint with the best sprinters (better if the road is sloped upward,) and now he has shown that he can climb with some of the best climbers.

Forget the fact that Sagan has a 97-point lead in the green jersey competition; the question now becomes how much more might he be able to win? What can he Not win? This man is a monster on a bicycle—and he has not even begun to develop his full potential.

Tacks at the Summit

There was plenty of drama behind the battles between the breakaway riders.

The General Classification contenders were content to let the breakaway escape—none of the riders were GC threats, and no one wanted to do more work that necessary after having ridden so many miles, and with so many even harder miles ahead. The gap got out to nearly 16 minutes by the time the breakaway hit the Mur de Peguere because no one in the peloton cared; they had their own battles to wage.

Cadel Evans started the aggression with an attack on the lower slopes of the climb. Ivan Basso of Liquigas, Pierre Rolland of Europcar, and Jurgen Van Den Broeck of Lotto went with him. Chris Froome and race leader Bradley Wiggins of Sky chased down this group, and Sky, with Froome and Ritchie Porte, took over the head of the peloton to shut down further attacks.

A short rain shower wet the narrow roads descending from the crest; Cadel Evans was probably anticipating another attack, using his mountain-biking-honed abilities. He never got the chance.

As the GC leaders crested the hill—right under the King of the Mountain banner—Evans punctured. This was disastrous. The team cars were far back—the roads were too narrow for both cars and bikes. Evans shouted for his teammates to help him, but Tejay Van Garderen was a little ahead, and thought there were more behind.

Cadel Evans looks on as his mechanic inserts a new rear wheel after Evans got his second of three punctures. (Fred Mons/AFP/GettyImages)

Cadel Evans looks on as his mechanic inserts a new rear wheel after Evans got his second of three punctures. (Fred Mons/AFP/GettyImages)

The first rider behind, Steve Cumming, couldn’t help—he got a puncture too. Evans lost more than a minute before another teammate showed up to give him a wheel. He had to stop again, and then a third time with flat tires.

Evans wasn’t the only one. Andreas Klöden, Nicholas Roche, Haimar Zubeldia, Maxime Monfort, and half a dozen other riders punctured cresting the climb. Even a race official’s motorcycle got a flat. In all more than 30 riders got punctures. It turned out that some brainless hooligan had thrown a handful of tacks onto the road as the leaders approached.

This was a lot more than just a childish prank—Astana’s Robert Kiserlovskki crashed here and had to abandon the Tour with a broken collarbone.

Bradley Wiggins took the opportunity to show his class. When he realized Evans was sidelined, Wiggins told his teammates, and the rest of the peloton, to hold up—he refused to take unfair advantage. This actually ended up working to Wiggins’ favor, as he too got a puncture shortly after. By then the team cars had caught up with the leaders, so Wiggins lost no time getting a new bike. Meanwhile, the rest of the BMC squad pulled Evans back to the head of the peloton so the race could resume.

The only rider who ignored Wiggins’ suggestion to wait was Pierre Rolland. He decided to take advantage, and rode off at maximum speed when the peloton slowed. Rolland eventually sat up; possibly because the peloton, once reassembled, tuned up the gas, determined to ride him down, and possibly because his team’s Directeur Sportif radioed for Rolland to sit up. Good will is important in the peloton, and Rolland would have had none, had he continued.

The General Classification remained the same at the end of the day; Wiggins’ sportsmanlike move cost him nothing, and made sure the Tour de France would be decided by cycling, not the interference of idiots. Sky retains the top two spots, with Wiggins and Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali holds third by a comfortable margin over Cadel Evans.

Stage Fifteen has a handful of climbs, but should still end with a sprint finish—assuming the sprinters can again drag themselves up the hills. Tuesday is a rest day, and the next two days are ridiculously difficult mountain stages.

Tour de France Stage 14

 

rider

team

time

1

Luis Leon Sanchez

Rabobank

4:50:29

2

Peter Sagan

Liquigas-Cannondale

00:47

3

Sandy Casar

FDJ-Big Mat

 

4

Philippe Gilbert

BMC

 

5

Gorka Izaguirre

Euskaltel-Euskadi

 

6

Sergio Paulinho

Saxo-Tinkoff Bank

02:51

7

Sébastien Minard

Ag2R

 

8

Martin Velits

Omega Pharma-Quickstep

03:49

9

Eduard Vorganov

Katusha

04:51

10

Steven Kruijswijk

Rabobank

04:53

General Classification after Stage 14

 

rider

team

time

1

Bradley Wiggins

Sky

64:41:16

2

Christopher Froome

Sky

0:02:05

3

Vincenzo Nibali

Liquigas-Cannondale

0:02:23

4

Cadel Evans

BMC

0:03:19

5

Jurgen Van Den Broeck

Lotto Belisol

0:04:48

6

Haimar Zubeldia

RadioShack-Nissan

0:06:15

7

Tejay Van Garderen

BMC

0:06:57

8

Janez Brajkovic

Astana

0:07:30

9

Pierre Rolland

Europcar

0:08:31

10

Thibaut Pinot

FDJ-Big Mat

0:08:51

 




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