Sportsmanship At Its Finest: Bradley Wiggins Shows Class Amidst Chaos
The fourteenth stage of the 2012 Tour de France was lined up to be an epic battle including all of this year’s big names, jockeying for position in the overall individual time classification. The 119-mile stage ranging from Limoux to Foix was a beauty, with two massive climbs towards the end of the day. On the single-lane road up the Mur de Peguere, all the top contenders in the Tour were side by side, jammed in between a thick field of spectators. There is no explaining the grit riders show climbing the massive grades of the Tour de France. Once at the top, most of them are slightly relieved with the downhill race that follows. Unfortunately, that relief was marred at the top of the 9.3 km climb of the Mur de Peguere.
In an unthinkable and disgraceful turn of events, a spectator threw carpet tacks onto the course, causing over 30 cyclists to be riddled with flat tire issues. It was mass chaos at the top of the climb, with riders all over the road, scrambling for new wheels, new bikes and help from teammates in positioning themselves back in the race. Among those devastated with flat tires due to the spectator sabotage was returning Tour champion, Cadel Evans. Evans experienced a flat back tire as he screamed for his teammate Tejay Van Garderen to wait for him and possibly swap wheels. Van Garderen didn’t hear Evans during the mass panic of the tack incident and kept going. Evans lost considerable time due to the events at the top of the final climb. Once situated and descending, Evans had to stop twice more to fix additional flats.
While race leader, Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins had to deal with a bike exchange of his own, he still stood at the front of the peloton, along with a number of his teammates. When he was made aware of the tack-throwing incident over the team radio, Wiggins was a noticeable organizer of some of the best sportsmanship any sport has seen in some time. From the helicopter camera, viewers could see Wiggins gesturing to his teammates and conferring with other riders to slow down and allow Evans and the BMC team to catch up to the peloton. The classy move was made in an effort to keep the competition fair. In Wiggins’ mind, winning the Tour de France, or extending his lead over Evans due to an incident such as spectator sabotage is no way to compete. Evans waved his hand in the air to every participating team car as he passed them on his way back to the peloton, thanking them for their respect and class. Evans and Wiggins ultimately finished together in the peloton, keeping the general classification standings steady at least for a day.
“I thought it was the honorable thing to do, nobody should ever profit by somebody’s misfortune like that,” Wiggins said of his decision not to attack. “It became quite apparent very quickly when all of the guys started puncturing at once. It wasn’t just one or two, it all started happening and was becoming dangerous.”
During something so dishonorable and shameful, Bradley Wiggins and all the other cyclists involved showed their true character as men and competitors. Oakley commends Wiggins and Team Sky for honoring Evans and the rest of the field affected by the incident. Your sportsmanship and class are truly remarkable.