Dangerous Prank Spoils Tour de France Stage
Sunday's Stage 14 of the Tour de France was spoiled by unknown saboteurs who scattered tacks in the road atop the day's final climb and descent. Not only did it cause as many as 30 flat tires, it also caused riders Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Robert Kiserlovski (Astana) to crash. Leipheimer was treated for road rash while Kiserlovski abandoned the Tour with a broken collarbone. It was also the source of the day's chief drama, as defending champ Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) punctured three times, requiring the peloton, according to informal race etiquette, to wait up for him. Another rider, Pierre Rolland (Team Europcar), apparently unaware of Evans' mechanical, attacked from the peloton, earning scorn from his fellow riders.
While such a malicious, premeditated attack was despicable—particularly in a race and sport where riders are regularly exposed to the risk of career- and life-ending crashes—VeloNews' Ryan Newill made the interesting point that such incidents are shockingly rare in such an open, close-to-the-fans sport. The 3,000-plus kilometers of road are wide-open to spectators and would-be saboteurs and published in advance of the race. Fans can, and do, literally reach out and touch the pros here, giving them friendly (and covert) pushes on steep sections and handing them Cokes. There's no filter of on-field security or beefy entourages here, and yet the pros, for the most part, stay safe. It's a good point, and the essay is definitely worth a read (also for the colorful history of said incidents).