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Luis Leon Sanchez wins 4th Tour victory
Jul 16th, 12. Luis Leon Sanchez earned his fourth Tour de France victory in style when he soloed to win Stage 14 of the 2012 edition after a late charge from a breakaway group today.
Rabobank only has four riders left in the Tour after early crashes injured so many on the team, but today Sanchez proved it doesn't take a full team to take the spoils of victory.
In the 191km stage from Limoux to Foix, the Spaniard joined the key eleven rider break with his teammate Steven Kruijswijk.
It wasn't until the 35km mark that any riders could break the grip of the peloton today, and it was the irrepressible Mr Sagan (Liquigas) who started the move.
The group soon swelled and the two Rabobank riders and green jersey leader were together with Russian National Champion Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Sandy Casar (FDJ), Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Martin Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Sebastien Minard (AG2R) and Sergio Paulinho (Saxo Bank).
Over the three categorised climbs they managed to take a huge gap of almost 15min over the chasing group.
All were aware of the big presence of three time stage winner Sagan in the group, and each knew their chance to win was to drop the Slovakian.
With the stage victory in mind, it was over the new climb for the Tour, the Cat 1 Mur du Peguere with 38km left to ride, when the group reduced to a more manageable five rider bunch.
Thanks to a surge on the steepest section (18% gradient) by Kruiswijk, Sanchez was left with just Gilbert, Casar, Izagirre and Sagan as threats.
Casar went to the front in the final 500m of the climb and led over the top, followed by Izaguirre and Sagan at 5sec, then came Gilbert and Sanchez at 25sec.
With 30km to go, Sagan and Izaguirre caught Casar. With 20km to go the five were back together again until Sanchez attacked with 11km to go.
He won 47sec ahead of Sagan with Casar taking 3rd place. It was an impressive display by Sagan who at 22 years old is proving he really is a Tour de France champion of the future.
Behind them, the drama of a flurry of punctures held up the peloton, which evetually came across the line 18min after the leading riders. Read Tic tack toe the line ...
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