Cadel's Tour struck by sabotage
CADEL Evans' Tour de France defence was almost completely derailed, after the Australian champion was struck by an act of sabotage in this morning's 14th stage.
Chasing down a three minute deficient on the maillot jaune (yellow jersey) of Briton Bradley Wiggins, Evans showed his intent to attack on the largest climb of the day in the Pyrenees, before he fell victim to tacks thrown onto the road.
Forced to stop three times, as mechanics could tend to the punctures Evans found himself behind the peloton by almost a minute and half at one stage.
Evans was among 30 riders who suffered flat tyres near or after the Mur de Peguere climb, about 39km from the stage finish in Foix.
It left him in a desperate chase with his BMC team to catch Wiggins' leading group.
"Nails, protesters or some kind-hearted people on the road," Evans said.
"The world is full of people like that, unfortunately - not full, but ...
"You're in a bike race and people can see something they can gain, whether it's a protest or something they can gain from you as someone who's reasonably well-known.
"I'm used to people - the 'me me' generation, it's sometimes referred to - that's the way it goes.
"Hopefully ... karma comes around."
Evans' BMC team director John Lelangue showed reporters a carpet tack he said he took out of one of the punctured tyres.
Even Wiggins had to change bike, the Englishman signalling to his team car to stop as he got a quick replacement.
Team Astana rider Robert Kiserlovski crashed on the ensuing descent and suffered a broken collarbone, but it is uncertain whether sabotage caused the accident.
As it was race etiquette saw Wiggins and the peloton slow and wait for Evans and his BMC team ensuring he remains 3 minutes and 19 seconds off the pace.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme was quick to condemn the incident.
"The punctures started at the end of the Mur de Peguere climb, and then on the descent, and it could have had tragic circumstances," Prudhomme said.
"It's very rare, but particularly dangerous. I can only condemn it as a stupid act," he said.