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Tour de France 2012: Stage 14

Welcome to our live coverage of stage 14 from the 2012 Tour de France. Today's high mountain stage from Limoux to Foix takes us into the foothills of the Pyrenees.

It's 19 degrees at the start line, with temperatures expected to rise quite sharply over the next couple of hours.

The riders are making their way through the neutral zone and we should be underway pretty soon...

According to the race organisers there have been no overnight withdrawals so 163 riders will start the stage.

And we're off and running now in stage 14...

VIDEO PREVIEW: You can watch Chris Boardman's video preview of today's stage and find information and maps right here.

Looks like a pretty fast start here. Tailwind is helping the riders.

Here's the situation in the general classification after yesterday's 13th stage:

 

1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 59:32:32
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 (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:06:15
7 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:06:57
8 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:07:30
9 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:08:31
10 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:08:51
11 Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:09:29
12 Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan 0:09:45
13 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:10:49
14 Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur - Sojasun 0:11:27
15 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan 0:12:41
16 Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:17:21
17 Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan 0:17:41
18 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:18:04
19 Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team 0:19:02
20 Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank 0:20:12

187km remaining from 191km

No breakaway as of yet. Peloton is still in tact...

So let's have a quick look at what's in store for the riders today. They will edge their way to the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains over the course of this 191km test. The riders will face one category two climb and then two category ones - the highest of which reaches a level of 1517 metres. The final forty kilometres are downhill before a flat run to the finish.

We've had a couple of attacks so far but none of them have managed to stick. They're all still in one big bunch.

Yesterday the riders tackled a flat stage and it was Lotto-Belisol's Andre Greipel who prevailed over Peter Sagan in a sprint finish. It was the German's third stage win at this year's Tour. You can read all about and watch video hightlighs right here, but here's the top ten:

 

TOP TEN FINISHERS - STAGE 14

 

1 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team 4:57:59
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
3 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
4 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
5 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
6 Julien Simon (Fra) Saur - Sojasun
7 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
8 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
9 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
10 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre - ISD

175km remaining from 191km

Still no break. The peloton aren't too far away from the start of the first climb of the day, the category two Col du Portel. It's 5.3km long with an average gradient of 6.3%.

And as the foot of the climb approaches, green jersey holder Peter Sagan (Liquigas) has made an escape. He has been joined by a Vacansoleil-DCM rider. Will the break survive?

The answer is no. The pelton haven't allowed them to get away. They're all about to start this climb now. It could lead to an attack/breakaway so stay tuned...

167km remaining from 191km

And they've started the climb...

Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) has attacked in the early stages of the climb. Who will follow him?

The answer is: everyone. They have quickly reeled him in. There are a few riders struggling at the back of the field though, including Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp).

So with a week to go, can anyone stop our race leader Bradley Wiggins? Johan Bruyneel doesn't think so. Read his thoughts on Wiggins and his teammate Chris Froome right here.

162km remaining from 191km

Taaramae has attacked again with 1km of the climb left. Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) has gone with him...

And they've reached the summit of the Col du Portel. Here's the results:

 

RESULT - COL DU PORTEL CLIMB

 

1. Voeckler (EUC) 5pts

2. Kessiakoff (AST) 3pts

3. Martinez (EUS) 2pts

4. Vande Velde (GRS) 1pt

That result extends Kessiakoff's lead in the KOM standings and puts Voeckler into the top five. Lots more points on offer later in the shape of the two category one climbs to come.

And it looks like the peloton has split into two groups after that climb. Just waiting for it to settle down before we work out numbers and the gap...

Hearing that RadioShack duo Frank Schleck and Andreas Kloden are in the group that have been dropped...

149km remaining from 191km

And it looks like Sagan is on the attack again. He's built up a lead on the yellow jersey group of around ten seconds. Kruiswijk and Paulinho have gone with him. Will it stick this time?

It doesn't look like it will. The gap is already coming down. This isn't looking like a proper break.

Although perhaps I spoke too soon. It's gone back up to 15 seconds now. With Matt Goss lying in second place behind Sagan in the points classification, it's doubtful that Orica-GreenEdge will want him to get too far clear.

This leading trio are now 24 seconds clear. Meanwhile, back down the road, the Schleck group are almost two minutes behind the leaders and are over a minute-and-a-half behind the yellow jersey group.

Sagan is leading the points standings and has won three stages here so far this year in his first Tour de France. Paulinho is also a stage winner, having notched one up in 2010. Meanwhile, Kruijswijk is the best-placed of these three in the overall GC, though he is over an hour behind Wiggins.

140km remaining from 191km

There looks to be a counter attack developing here...

Pretty fast start to the stage has been highlighted by the average speed for the opening hour, which has been calculated at 46.2km/h.

Looks like a group of eight have counter-attacked from the yellow jersey group. So far I can identify Vorganov (Katusha) and Casar (FDJ)...

Philippe Gilbert is there too. The full eight are: Gilbert (BMC), Gautier (EUC), Izaguirre (EUS), Minard (ALM), Vorganov (KAT), Casar (FDJ), Sanchez (RAB) and Velits (OPQ).

The Schleck group has now caught the yellow jersey group up, so we have one main peloton behind these leading eleven riders.

132km remaining from 191km

And the eight pursuers have caught the leading trio now. They are 1:12 ahead of the main peloton...

Of these eleven, Vorganov is the highest placed in the GC. He's in 26th place, 33:59 behind Wiggins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elsewhere, Thor Hushovd's season of woe is continuing. He's been forced to pull out of the Tour of Poland and is now rated a doubt for the Olympics. Read all about it here.

130km remaining from 191km

The lead is now approaching the four-minute mark for these eleven escapees...

For the 153rd time in their career, Luis Leon Sanchez and Sandy Casar are together in a breakaway #Ritual

@AlexandreMignot Sun, 15th Jul 2012 12:54:45

In addition to Sagan and Paulinho, who I mentioned earlier when they were in front as part of a three-man break, Gilbert, Sanchez and Casar have also previously won stages at the Tour de France.

And they are really motoring up front now. The gap is up to 6:40...

The riders are now passing through the small town of Lavelanet, which has hosted starts at the Tour de France twice - in 2002 and 2008.

We have an intermediate sprint coming before the next climb. But the riders are still roughy 30 minutes away from that point...

115km remaining from 191km

The gap is now approaching the ten-minute mark. There's no threat to the top riders in the GC though as Vorganov is over half an hour behind.

The British press is awash with a story about Chris Froome expecting full support from Sky in the 2013 Tour. He's also apparently voiced his frustrations at being a domestique...

It's looking a bit overcast now. Rain wasn't on the agenda according to the weather forecasters this morning, but I wouldn't bet against it looking at the skies...

Sky are at the front of the peloton now. Wiggins is right there surrounded by his teammates, including Cavendish...

105km remaining from 191km

Gap is now up to 11:32...

OK time for me to grab a bit of lunch. Handing over to Susan for the next few kms...

It looks as if Vorganov has made contact with the pavement (or something else) today. He has a hole in his britches, as Mom used to say.

100km remaining from 191km

100km still to go, and the gap is just under the 12 minute mark.

Fränk Schleck pays a visit to the RadioShack-Nissan team car.

The lead group is riding through a village, while the peloton is still deep in the woods.

Sagan drops back to the team car and picks up not only a new bidon but also a bit of advice.

Sky still leading the peloton, followed by Liquigas. Followed by everyone else, of course.

It is getting increasingly cloudier here at the race. We really don't think rain on these upcoming climbs would be a good idea.

With the intermediate sprint approaching, Sagan has quietly moved to the head of the group. He keeps looking back to make sure no one gets the idea of crossing the line ahead of him.

And no one else does. Sagan gets the maximum points.

89km remaining from 191km

The gap keeps creeping up and is now at nearly 13 minutes.

The next climb should be starting soon.  That is the Port de Lers, category one.

The field now rolls to the intermediate sprint. Greipel lead the way over, although Sky's Bernhard Eisel pretende to sprint against him.

81km remaining from 191km

The peloton hits the feeding zone.

Mark is back and ready to tackle those climbs!

Thanks Susan. Yep we're fast approaching this category one. Or at least the leaders are. They're about 2km away from the foot of it...

This climb - the Port de Lers - is 11.4km long and has an average gradient of 7%. The leaders are already on it...

75km remaining from 191km

Lots of twists and turns on this climb. And plenty of fans lining the road offering these leaders their support.

The peloton still haven't reached the foot of the climb yet. They are now almost 15 minutes behind...

FDJ and Sky are at the front of the peloton now but nobody seems to be in any sort of hurry...

Steve Cummings (BMC) takes the cross country route there for a minute...

Are those some spots of rain?

Hmmm. It seems to be holding off for now. But I'd put money on a shower or two in the not too distant future...

And the peloton have now started climbing. Up the road, the leaders have almost reached the summit.

Cavendish and Eisel are leading Sky at the front of the peloton now. Boasson Hagen, Porte, Froome and Rogers saving themselves for later.

Waiting to see who will take the points on this climb. Of the eleven leaders, Sanchez is the highest-placed in the KOM standings and lies in 14th place.

68km remaining from 191km

This climb featured in last year's Tour. On that occasion Izaguirre took the maximum points. He's right there again, in this leading group.

And the rain is really coming down now. This will make the climb even tougher for the peloton.

The temperature has plummeted as well. We're now down to 10 degrees.

The leaders are now just 1km from the summit of this climb. They'll then have a 16km descent before the next category one climb. The leaders are still over fourteen minutes clear and it's hard to see anyone coming from behind to catch them...

Here's more on the Chris Froome story that has got eveyone talking today. It's the first time he's let his frustrations out into the open...

Looks like Paulinho took the points over the second climb. Details to follow...

RESULT - PORT DE LERS CLIMB

 

1. Sergio Paulinho (STB) 10pts

2. Eduard Vorganov (KAT) 8pts

3. Philippe Gilbert (BMC) 6pts

4. Steven Kruiswijk (RAB) 4pts

5. Martin Velits (OPQ) 2pts

6. Luis Leon Sanchez (RAB) 1pt

60km remaining from 191km

Gautier has some problems with his chain there. He's fallen off the back of the leading group. Can he make up the ground on the descent?

Riders need extra clothing for descents as wind chill can cause body temperature to drop dramatically. #TDF12

@ScienceinSport Sun, 15th Jul 2012 14:55:26

Gautier is now 40 seconds behind the leaders after his problem with his chain...

The peloton are fighting the wind and icy rain up this climb. Up the road, the leaders are closing in on the next one.

More and more riders taking on extra clothing here to keep the chill and rain out

And the peloton are now over the second climb...

50km remaining from 191km

The leading ten riders are now 3km away from the foot of the final category one climb. The Mur de Peguere is shorter than the last category one climb (9.3km) but steeper (average gradient of almost 8%).

Gautier has brought the gap down to 30 seconds. He's fighting hard to get back on terms.

And the leaders have now started the Mur de Peguere. It has a gradient of 18% in some parts. That's just plain cruel.

It's the first time that this climb has featured in the Tour de France...

Gap is up above 15 minutes again now...

Gautier has caught the other ten escapees. Tremendous effort to regain the ground he had lost.

Once the riders reach the top of this climb they'll have 38.5km until the finish. Most of it is downhill. Could be a fascinating battle to the line as we have some brilliant descenders here, namely Sanchez, Gilbert, Sagan and Izaguirre...

Leaders have reached the steepest part of this climb. 18% here. They are three kilometres from the summit. It will feel like ten times that...

42km remaining from 191km

Cavendish leads the peloton to the bottom of the climb. Up the road the leaders are going through the pain barrier...

Vorganov and Kruijswijk are struggling in this leading group. Sagan has also dropped away slightly. Sanchez, Casar, Izaguirre and Gilbert are looking the strongest...

Gap is now up to nearly sixteen minutes. Cavendish still at the front of the chasing peloton for Sky...

The road on this climb - near to the top of it where the leaders are - is really narrow. Going to be tricky for the main pelton when they reach it in about 15 minutes...

Sagan is coming back towards the four who have broken clear. If he's in touch at the summit then he's got a real chance of winning this stage...

Sanchez is really pushing it on the front here. Trying to put some distance into Sagan as he fears him on the descent...

About 1.5km left of this climb for these leaders. It's brutal...

39km remaining from 191km

Amazingly, Sagan has almost caught them. He's proving himself to be a better climber than anyone thought...

Casar and Gilbert are live to Sagan's threat and they are trying to inject some pace. Half a kilometre to go for these riders...

Sanchez looks across and sees Sagan - he can't believe his eyes...

Casar slightly in front of the other four. He looks set to win the points on this climb...

Casar does take maximum points. He's off down the hill with the other four in pursuit...

And the peloton are now at the steepest part of the climb, just as the leaders go over the top...

Evans has gone to the front of the main peloton. Wiggins is tracking him all the way though. Space is going to be at a premium in the next couple of minutes...

Froome and Porte are now on the front of the peloton. No attacks from anyone yet and it's looking unlikely at this stage...

Up the road Casar is pushing hard in front but he hasn't shaken off Sagan and Izagirre. Gilbert and Sanchez are a little further back. Waiting on confirmation of gaps as they fly down the descent...

30km remaining from 191km

Gap has dropped under 15 minutes again...

And Sagan has overtaken Casar at the front. But we essentially still have a leading group of three...

25km remaining from 191km

25km to go for the leaders. Sagan looks a good bet for the stage win here though still plenty of time to go...

Wiggins is now at the front of the main peloton. Canny positioning there, keeping himself out of trouble on these narrow roads. Nibali is on his wheel...

Disaster for Evans. He punctures and there's nobody there to help him...

He must have lost around two minutes there...

20km remaining from 191km

After that drama, the leading trio are just 20km from the finish

Looks like Sky were happy to hang around for Evans, but Pierre Rolland has had other ideas and has upped the pace...

Wiggins is telling the yellow jersey group to ease the pace for Evans...

Gilbert and Sanchez are closing on the three leaders. Gap is coming down...

Europcar not doing themselves any favours here with Rolland's attack...

Now it's Wiggins' turn to puncture. In his case help is on hand within seconds...

Sanchez and Gilbert have caught the leading trio. How much has that effort taken out of them? All four must be vulnerable to Sagan's finishing kick though...

Another puncture - Scarponi this time. Has someone been scattering tacks all over the road?

Just 12km to go now for the leading quartet. Gap is 17 minutes on the yellow jersey group...

12km remaining from 191km

Another puncture for Evans - his front wheel this time. Rui Costa (Movistar) has also got one.

Puncture for Roche as well. I was joking about the tacks, but now I'm not sure...

10km remaining from 191km

ATTACK: Luis Leon Sanchez has gone clear in front with 10km to go...

Sanchez is now 20 seconds clear - can he keep it going?

Lotto-Belisol are leading the yellow jersey group now...

7km remaining from 191km

Sanchez is now 25 seconds clear with 7km to go...

5km remaining from 191km

This will be a boost for Rabobank if Sanchez can hang on - they've had a miserable Tour so far...

Hearing unofficial reports that there has indeed been things scattered on the roads...

4km left here for Sanchez. It's looking good for him at this point...

Wow. What a controversial stage. So many talking points...

2km remaining from 191km

Sanchez now has 40 seconds on the chasing quartet. Surely he's home and dry with 2km to go?

Evans is 25 seconds behind the yellow jersey group so has made up some time. Rolland is till well clear of them.

Less than 1km to go now for Sanchez...

Rolland has been caught - must have been team orders?

Sanchez wins

Sagan wins the sprint for second. Tight between Casar and Gilbert for third place. Izagirre in fifth.

Great ride there by Sanchez. Coolness personified. He refused to panic when him and Gilbert were dropped on the descent and used him time trial skills to time his final attack to perfection.

Rolland was definitely called back there by his team to save another PR disaster. Evans has now caught up with the yellow jersey group. By my calculations they are about ten minutes away from the finish...

OFFICIAL TOP FIVE - STAGE 14

 

1. Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP) RAB - 4h50'29"

2. Peter Sagan (SVK) LIQ at 47"

3. Sandy Casar (FRA) FDJ at 47"

4. Philippe Gilbert (BEL) BMC at 47"

5. Gorka Izaguirre (ESP) EUS at 47"

OFFICIAL TOP TEN FINISHERS - STAGE 14

 

1 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
3 Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
4 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
5 Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
6 Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank
7 Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
8 Martin Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
9 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team
10 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team

Race commissaire confirms tacks in the road at the #TDF12.

@opqscyclingteam Sun, 15th Jul 2012 16:37:02

The yellow jersey group have finally crossed the line - over 18 minutes behind Sanchez.

TOP TEN GC AFTER STAGE 14:

 

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 (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:06:15
7 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:06:57
8 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:07:30
9 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:08:31
10 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:08:51

That's all for our live coverage of stage 14 from the 2012 Tour de France. A day of talking points: Sanchez taking the stage win and giving Rabobank something to be happy about; all the punctures, which were caused by tacks thrown on the road; and Pierre Rolland's unsporting attack when Cadel Evans was stranded with a puncture at the top of the final climb.

 

Sanchez's winning attack with 11.5km to go was inspired, but even that wasn't without controversy as he pressed the button just as Peter Sagan was eating. Sagan's display on the climbs and the fact that he was able to stay with the break was a talking point in itself.

 

We'll have full reaction to a day of drama, report, results, photos and video highlights right here as we get them.

 

And join us tomorrow for live coverage of stage 15.

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