Five guys in the break and they all knew who would win stage 14 into Foix.
Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank), Sandy Casar (FDJ-Big Mat), Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel) and Philippe Gilbert (BMC) knew that Peter Sagan (Liquigas Cannondale) would destroy them in the sprint.
When they couldn’t drop Sagan on the category one Mur de Péguère, their odds went down close to zero. The 22 year old Fastvakian had already won three stages in this year’s Tour de France. He was about to win his fourth and crush everyone in the green jersey competition, too.
Sagan only made one mistake and it was perhaps the only mistake possible. He got hungry at the wrong time and the right rider noticed. With 11.5 kilometers to go, Sagan went to the back and pulled out a gel. The experienced and opportunistic Luis Leon Sanchez knew that gel was his only chance.
In that faction of a second, Sanchez ripped clear and Sagan was left behind three riders, gel in hand, slow to react. The Spanish Time Trial Champion went as aero as possible and in five kilometers pulled out a 25 second gap.
Now there were four guys in the break and they knew two things. One, nobody was going to help Sagan catch Sanchez and two, their own chance for a stage win was gone. Sagan won the sprint for second without even switching on the turbos and Casar settled for third.
Sanchez knew he’s beaten the odds in taking his fourth Tour de France stage victory. “Sagan can win any sprint in the Tour, so today, in a break with so few people, he would have won easily. I attacked from far out and everything went right,” said Sanchez.
The gel cost Sagan the race but he wasn’t angry like he was when Matthew Goss cut him off. “I should have kept a better eye on him. In the last few kilometers I needed to eat. I wasn’t expecting him to attack me at that point,” said Sagan. “He is experienced and I am not bitter about it.”
Nope, he’s not bitter but in the future he’ll be more careful about gels. Getting your race nutrition right can win you races.