After enjoying a fun 67 mile ride through the barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva yesterday with my good cycling friends, I settled down to watch the stage replay of the Tour de France with my son, who by the way is becoming quite a cycling fan. On paper, stage 14 looked extremely challenging, as all the stages do, with three climbs over 191 KM’s of racing…the perfect stage for a strong all-rounder to win.
As is turns out, Sagan, a sprinter and absolute cycling phoneme, made an exciting break to win the stage. As the riders reached the apex of the last climb, pandemonium broke as an incredible number of riders, including those in GC contention starting getting flats, and in the case of Evans, multiple flats.
The unusually high incidence of flats made Phil Liggett comment that perhaps a conspiracy was underway and that someone had tossed out tacks onto the course. As it turns out, he was absolutely right.
Flats were so rampant that teams were just tossing out wheels to the riders so that they could change it themselves! The tacks were so pervasive that one of the chase motorcycles actually had 28 tacks in one wheel! In total, there were 48 punctures, as well as numerous punctures of support vehicles. Three of the five motorcycles providing the live feeds were disabled due to the attack!
What on earth would drive someone to do this? It’s unconscionable that some one can be so malicious and absolutely stupid as to throw tacks on the race course. This action could have lethal consequences on the peloton as well as all the support crew. In fact one rider, Robert Kiserlovski crashed as a result of the tacks and had to abandon the race from the injuries he sustained. There was also a mention of one of the chase motorcycles going down hard sending the driver to the hospital with multiple fractures!
Fan interaction is a part of the tour de France, but hooliganism/deviant behavior has absolutely no place when riders lives are on the line. Kudos to Bradley Wiggins and team Sky for neutralizing the stage and not allowing such an idiotic action impact the overall standings of the race.
Route: Barrier Islands
Ride Time: 4:08:25
Stopped Time: 1:08:34
Distance: 67.76 miles
Average: 16.37 mph
Fastest Speed: 34.87 mph
Ascent: 362 feet
Descent: 385 feet