Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins was today being praised as 'Le Gentleman' for neutralising the peloton on a 14th stage to Foix sabotaged by tacks.

Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) was among 30 riders affected, puncturing three times as the bunch crested the Mur de Peguere, and saw his defence of the yellow jersey deflating before his eyes as Wiggins and others began to claim a significant lead.

But Wiggins, who changed bikes on the descent due to a mechanical problem, promptly realised something was amiss and instructed his Team Sky colleagues to slow as the fragmented peloton regrouped and crossed the line more than 18 minutes behind stage winner Luis-Leon Sanchez.

It is etiquette not to attack when another rider suffers a puncture or mechanical, and French television hailed Wiggins for being the English sporting gentleman afterwards.

Sanchez (Rabobank) had been part of the day's 11-man escape which appeared unhindered by the tacks.

John Lelange, directeur sportif of Evans' BMC Racing team, said: "We came back with the whole group and Sky was really honest and didn't attack in the front.

"They were really fair. I went to (Team Sky sports director) Sean Yates at the end of the race to say I really appreciated it."

Wiggins will begin today's 158.5-kilometre 15th stage from Samatan to Pau in the maillot jaune for an eighth day, and is seeking to become the first British winner of the Tour in Paris on Sunday.