Leon Sanchez wins controversial Stage 14
Defending champion Cadel Evans survived a serious threat to his Tour de France hopes as Leon Sanchez produced a superb solo effort to claim victory on Stage 14.
In a controversial stage between Limoux and Foix in the foothills of the Pyrenees, a number of riders were hindered by punctures amid reports of tacks being thrown on the course.
Race leader Bradley Wiggins was also forced to swap bikes on the descent into Foix, but Evans was at risk of losing time on his rivals when he found himself on his own at the top of the Mur de Peguere with no replacement bike.
After waiting more than a minute for help to arrive, Evans then suffered a second puncture as he tried to close the gap on the main group.
But despite a charge by Europcar's Pierre Rolland, Team Sky, at the behest of Wiggins, held up the peloton to allow Evans and his BMC Racing team to catch up. The main group finished 18 minutes behind the frontrunners, but it had no impact on the general classification standings as Wiggins maintained control of the yellow jersey.
"I just thought it was the honourable thing to do," Wiggins said. "Nobody wants to benefit from someone else's misfortune. When the shoes are on the other foot no-one wants to be in that position."
Green jersey holder Peter Sagan was awarded the combativity award for keeping up with the mountain specialists over two Category One climbs, and the Slovakian finished an impressive second, beating Sandy Casar, Philippe Gilbert and Gorka Izaguirre in a sprint finish after Sanchez made his move with 10 kilometres remaining.
King of the Mountains Robert Kiserlovski was forced to abandon the race after breaking his collarbone in a crash. Astana's Fredrik Kessiakoff will wear the polkadot jersey on Stage 15 between Samatan and Pau.
Stage 14 result
1 Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP) Rabobank - 4:50:29
2 Peter Sagan (SVK) Liquigas-Cannondale - 0:47
3 Sandy Casar (FRA) FDJ-Big Mat - 0:47
4 Philippe Gilbert (BEL) BMC Racing Team - 0:47
5 Gorka Izaguirre (ESP) Euskaltel - Euskadi - 0:47
6 Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (POR) Team Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank - 2:51
7 Sebastien Minard (FRA) AG2R La Mondiale - 2:51
8 Martin Velits (SVK) Omega Pharma-Quickstep - 3:49
9 Eduard Vorganov (RUS) Katusha Team - 4:51
10 Steven Kruijswijk (NED) Rabobank - 4:53
1 Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Sky Procycling - 64:41:16
2 Christopher Froome (GBR) Sky Procycling - 0:02:05
3 Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Liquigas-Cannondale - 0:02:23
4 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC Racing Team - 0:03:19
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (BEL) Lotto Belisol Team - 0:04:48
6 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (ESP) RadioShack-Nissan - 0:06:15
7 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing - 0:06:57
8 Janez Brajkovic (SLO) Astana - 0:07:30
9 Pierre Rolland (FRA) Europcar - 0:08:31
10 Thibaut Pinot (FRA) FDJ-Big Mat 0:08:51