Sanchez wins puncture marred 14th stage

Rabobank Cycling Team rider Luis Leon Sanchez of Spain holds up his arms as he wins the 14th stage of the 99th Tour de France cycling race between Limoux and Foix, July 15, 2012. (REUTERS/Stephane Mahe)

By Gilles Le Roc’h

FOIX, France, July 15 (Reuters) – Luis Leon Sanchez broke away on his own to clinch the fourth Tour de France victory of his career in the 191.5-km 14th stage on Sunday.

The Spaniard, a winner on the Tour in 2008, 2009 and 2011, surged ahead 11 kms from the line to win a stage marred by several punctures, apparently caused by nails and tacks thrown on the road.

Sanchez crossed the line 47 seconds ahead of Peter Sagan, who strengthened his lead in the points classification, while Frenchman Sandy Casar was third in the same time as the Slovakian.

Defending champion Cadel Evans had to stop three times on the descent of the first-category Mur de Peguere, 38.5 kms from the finish, because of the nails and tacks on the tarmac.

The Australian’s first flat tire came at the top of the climb and he had to wait several minutes for a team mate to assist him as his team car was already speeding down the descent and could not turn back.

The peloton, informed about the incident by the race radio, slowed down to wait for Evans’s return into the pack and as a result the overall standings did not change.

Briton Bradley Wiggins still leads compatriot Chris Froome by two minutes five seconds while Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali lies third, 2:23 adrift.

Evans is still 3:19 off the pace in fourth place.

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