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Wiggins binds Tour lead as tacks, nails blotch road

FOIX, France (AP) — Crashes, falls, fractures — Bradley Wiggins has seen it all. Now supplement tacks and nails to list. Still, zero can mangle his stranglehold on a Tour de France.

On a day of harm in a Pyrenees, Wiggins had fitness on his side. He avoided a disharmony and spent another trouble-free theatre as his Sky organisation tranquil his categorical rivals to strengthen his yellow jersey.

At slightest 30 riders were disrupted by tire punctures during a tip of a final stand after tacks and tiny nails were tossed on a road. Tour officials asked military to investigate.

Defending champion Cadel Evans was held in a havoc. He had to wait 3 times for assistance. He mislaid scarcely dual mins during one indicate before teammates arrived and gave a former universe champion a back wheel.

But Wiggins respected cycling practice by not attempting to gain on Evans’ misfortune. He urged a peloton to behind down to concede Evans to lapse to a pack. Wiggins and Evans finished in a same time — 18 minutes, 15 seconds behind Luis Leon Sanchez of Spain, who won a 119-mile, 14th theatre between Limoux and Foix.

This was a initial day of racing in a Pyrenees, and Wiggins kept his altogether lead of 2:05 over Sky teammate Christopher Froome. Vincenzo Nibali of Italy is third, 2:23 off a gait while Evans stays fourth, 3:19 behind.

After crashing out of a competition with a damaged collarbone final year, Wiggins has been enjoying a ideal Tour so distant with a assistance of a organisation dedicated to his query for cycling’s many worshiped prize.

With usually dual large towering stages remaining before a competition ends in Paris subsequent Sunday, and a prolonged time hearing where Wiggins is approaching to blow his rivals apart, a former Olympic lane champion looks all though guaranteed to turn a initial Brit to win a Tour. Yet, he is good wakeful of a dangers that can arise anywhere.

“What can we do? It’s something we can’t control,” Wiggins said, referring to a harm that could have led to a reshuffle of a standings.

“There’s zero interlude some-more of that arrange of things happening. It’s sad. Those are a form of things we have to put adult with as cyclists. we consider people take that for postulated sometimes, usually how tighten they can get to us. If that happened in a football stadium, or wherever, you’d be arrested.”

From time to time, wandering dogs or photograph-snapping fans get strike by speeding riders. On Friday, Wiggins was strike on a arm and perceived teenager browns from a light waved by a spectator. Three years ago, Oscar Freire and Julien Dean were strike by pellets from an atmosphere rifle.

“We’re out there, utterly exposed during times, unequivocally tighten to a open on climbs,” Wiggins said. “We’re usually a riders during a finish of a day and we’re there to be shot at, literally.”

Speaking on French TV, competition executive Jean-Francois Pescheux commended Sky for enlivening a container to not speed ahead. He pronounced a hunt for a law-breaker would be formidable since thousands of fans were on a corner of a road.

“This could have had terrible consequences on a skirmish like that,” Tour executive Christian Prudhomme said. “This is dangerous and foolish behavior.”

Astana supplement Robert Kiserlovski forsaken out of a competition after violation his collarbone in an collision associated to a tacks. Wiggins transient nonetheless he did change bikes in a final descent.

“We’re really, unequivocally lucky, nobody punctured,” Sky manager Dave Brailsford said. “Brad altered his bike though no panic. It was apparent something was wrong. So he motionless to behind down a bit and not take advantage of it. It’s flattering apparent that when something like that happens, it’s not bike racing. we consider satisfactory play to Bradley. It was a unequivocally sportsmanlike gesture.”

Evans, his chances of winning are all though gone, mislaid a Spanish Vuelta 3 years ago after being behind by a circle change during a 13th stage.

“That’s a approach things go in life. Karma hopefully comes around,” Evans said. “I couldn’t see (the tacks) on a road. It happened to me 3 times and during essential moments. This has happened to me before, dual times in Spain, that’s because we don’t competition in Spain unequivocally often. Sorry for a good Spanish people and my Spanish friends and people in Spain who support me. But there’s a few people that usually take things too far.”

Pierre Rolland of France was a usually supplement who pounded after Evans’ puncture.

“I don’t know either he knew or not,” Wiggins said. “I knew true divided something had happened. we usually suspicion it was a small bit coarse during that time. The theatre was gone. … It didn’t seem a honest thing to do.”

Rolland, ninth altogether and 8:31 behind Wiggins, pronounced he was not wakeful of what happened.

“I’m someone who respects a peloton and a codes and we would never have pounded a supplement who punctured,” Rolland said. “It saddens me a bit.”

Sanchez used his time hearing knowledge for his solo victory. He was among a organisation of 5 riders who pennyless divided on a Mur de Peguere, apparently before a tacks were thrown.

He afterwards done his wilful pierce 7 miles from a finish to win a Tour theatre for a fourth time in his career. Slovakia’s Peter Sagan, who has a immature jersey as tip sprinter, finished second, 47 seconds behind Sanchez. France’s Sandy Casar was third in a same time.

“With Philippe Gilbert and Sagan in a breakaway, we knew that my usually possibility was to try my fitness on my possess from distant away,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez, hampered by a wrist damage during a initial week, crossed himself and forked his fingers toward a sky as he went over a finish line.

Sagan and dual other riders transient from a peloton after 22 miles during a skirmish after a initial climb. Eight riders, including Gilbert, Casar and Sanchez, afterwards pennyless divided in office of a contingent and bridged a opening while a second peloton held adult with a yellow jersey’s group. With nothing of a 11 escapees posing a hazard in a altogether standings, they were given a leisure to continue.

Despite sleet and cooler weather, a climb was uneventful. Wiggins’ teammates set a dash during a front of a container while a Briton’s rivals did not brave a move.


Associated Press writers Greg Keller and Jamey Keaten contributed to this report.

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