Three-time world champion Oscar Freire of Spain closed in on the sprint title by winning Saturday’s 14th stage, while Australia’s Cadel Evans kept the yellow jersey in the doping-battered race for a fifth straight day.
Evans, who was runner-up last year, knows his clutch on the race leader’s yellow jersey is about to be challenged—notably by Team CSC, which has two strong climbers who are within 1 1/2 minutes of him.
“Tomorrow the challenges to my yellow jersey will begin,” said Evans, adding that his Silence Lotto team has tried to save the energy of riders who could escort him up the Alpine climbs. “I have to play a smart race.
“We don’t have the strongest team for the mountains, we are well aware of that—and I’m sure my competitors are as well,” Evans said.
Freire, a three-time world champion, won a mass sprint at the end of the 120.9-mile trek from Nimes to Digne-les-Bains and moved in on clinching the green jersey given to the Tour’s best sprinter.
Cycling suffered another blow from doping Saturday when the South African conglomerate Barloworld said it will end its sponsorship of the sport after following team rider Duenas Nevado’s positive test.
Barloworld said in a statement that its team has a “zero tolerance” policy on doping and that the doping scandal has had a “negative impact” on its brand image
Results, Stage 14
1. Oscar Freire (ESP), Rabobank
2. Fabio-Leonardo Duque (COL), Cofidis at at0:00.
3. Erik Zabel (GER), Milram at 0:00.
4. Julian Dean (NZL), Garmin-Chipotle at 0:00.
5. Steven De Jongh (NED), Quick Step at 0:00.
6. Alessandro Ballan (ITA), Lampre at 0:00.
7. Ruben Perez (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi at 0:00.
8. Jerome Pineau (FRA), Bouygues Telecom at 0:00.
9. Matteo Tosatto (ITA), Quick Step at 0:00.
10. Thor Hushovd (NOR), Credit Agricole at 0:00.
1. Cadel Evans (AUS), Silence-Lotto at 59:01min55sec
2. Frank Schleck (LUX), CSC at at0:01.
3. Christian Vande Velde (USA), Garmin-Chipotle at 0:38.
4. Bernhard Kohl (AUT), Gerolsteiner at 0:46.
5. Denis Menchov (RUS), Rabobank at 0:57.
6. Carlos Sastre (ESP), CSC at 1:28.
7. Kim Kirchen (LUX), Team Columbia at 1:56.
8. Vladimir Efimkin (RUS), Ag2r at 2:32.
9. Mikel Astarloza (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi at 3:51.
10. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA), Liquigas at 4:18.