Cycling: Security fears after fan hits Kashechkin

Fourty-eight hours earlier, the Phonak pro had come off the worse in a duel with American George Hincapie on the Pla D'Adet summit finish. Forced to do the lion's share of the work as Hincapie refused to collaborate, the Galician had been too exhausted at the finish to put up more than symbolic resistance.

The 27-year-old criticised Hincapie on Monday's rest day, saying that the American had failed to respect an agreement to collaborate on the climb.

But the Tour's last incursion into the Pyrenees on yesterday's stage was another story altogether. Ironically enough, it was Hincapie who upped the pace when Pereiro and Italian Eddy Mazzoleni charged up the road on the Marie-Blanque climb in search of an 11-man move ahead.

If Pereiro succeeded in shaking off one Kazakh, Alexandre Vinokourov who attempted to follow his wheel, another, Andrei Kashechkin, had to stop chasing after he was hit in the face by a spectator.

Kasheckin, his nose streaming blood, u-turned and rode back to look for the aggressor: he was finally stopped and calmed down by officials.

"This is crazy what happened," Kashechkin said after finishing 59th. "Somebody on the side of the road hit me in the face. I don't understand why. The Tour must do something about security now." Kashechkin said that he would be going to hospital for X-rays.

Meanwhile Pereiro and Mazzoleni finally caught up with the stage leaders, Australia's Cadel Evans and Spaniard Xavier Zandio, following a fast descent of the Aubisque. The four maintained a margin of around four minutes over the peloton until the final kilometre, where an early charge by Evans for the line was countered by the Spaniard.

The quartet's advantage on Armstrong and company moved Evans up to seventh overall but his country's cycling community was in no mood for celebrating.

On Monday evening 29-year-old Australian national team rider Amy Gillett was killed and five of her team-mates hospitalised, some with major injuries, after they were hit by a driver whose car had gone out of control near Leipzig in Germany. Evans and other Australian riders wore black armbands on yesterday's stage in solidarity.

Meanwhile Andreas Kloeden, last year's runner-up, may withdraw from the race after fracturing his right hand yesterday when he fell at the start of the trek to Pau. Luuc Eisenga, spokesman for his T-Mobile team, said Kloeden had x-rays after the stage and the team will wait until this morning to decide if the German rider continues.

Alasdair Fotheringham writes for Cycling Weekly

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