Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wiggins' Concern at Tour Sabotage

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wiggins' Concern at Tour Sabotage

Article excerpt

TOUR de France leader Bradley Wiggins believes the sabotage of yesterday's stage 14 - when tacks on the road caused a litany of punctures in the peloton - showed how vulnerable riders are on the road, where more severe incidents could yet occur.

Jean-Francois Pescheux, competitions director of Tour organisers Amaury Sports Organisation, confirmed around 30 riders suffered punctures on the climb of Mur de Peguere on the 191-kilometre route from Limoux to Foix.

Defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) was among those to suffer flat tyres and the stage was neutralised, initially by Wiggins's Team Sky squad, as the peloton rolled in more than 18 minutes behind stage winner Luis-Leon Sanchez.

Wiggins, who changed bikes as a result of a mechanical problem, said: "What can you do? It's something we can't control. There's nothing stopping more of that sort of stuff happening.

"It's sad. Those are the type of things we have to put up with as cyclists. I think people take that for granted sometimes, just how close they can get to us.

"If that happened in a football stadium, or wherever, you'd be arrested, CCTV. But we're out there, quite vulnerable at times, very close to the public on climbs.

"We're just the riders at the end of the day and there to be shot at, literally.

"It's quite sad and hopefully that's not going to continue. There's nothing you can do about it. We just have to get on with it."

One of the many attractions for roadside spectators is their proximity to the peloton, particularly on climbs, but there can be hazards for riders - Wiggins was burned by a flare on Friday's 12th stage.

The Mur de Peguere, a 9.3km category one climb at an average gradient of 7.9%, was making its Tour debut and there was the potential for drama - but no one envisaged what occurred.

The gradient of the slope ramps up severely, to 18%, in the second half of the ascent, which is as narrow as a single car and shaded by trees. …

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