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Bradley Wiggins turned 10sec into 2min
Jul 10th, 12. Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins has relied on his teammates for support in the Tour de France to date, but in today's time trial "race of truth" it was his legs alone which decimated the field.
The Brit earned his first Tour de France stage win when he powered home during the 41.5km Stage 9 time trial between Arc-et-Senans and Besançon.
He beat his teammate Chris Froome by 35sec and put over a minute into every rider other than prologue winner, four-time TT World Champion, Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Nissan Trek) whom he beat by 57sec.
At the start of the stage, defending Tour champion Cadel Evans (BMC) was just 10sec behind Wiggins in 2nd place on GC - now the BMC leader is still 2nd but almost 2min in arrears after conceding 1m42sec today.
Froome's great performance pulled him up to 3rd from 6th place.
"It's all still a bit of a haze. I've won the stage which is almost forgotten about as it was all about the GC and the battle – watching for Cadel, Vincenzo and those guys," Wiggins said afterwards.
"I'm just really pleased with the way I put the ride together and mentally the way I put the day together. The noise when I rolled off the ramp was incredible and not letting that faze me in terms of going off too hard. At the moment it's just relief and I'm proud of myself for doing that.
"It's fortunate we've got a rest day tomorrow so there's a bit more time to let it sink in before we are back on the road in two days' time."
Evans "not a bad performance"
Evans said he didn't know what to expect going into the second of three time trials in the three-week race.
"I rode not my best time trial but certainly not a bad one," he said. "In comparison to the other time trialists like Fabian Cancellara and Tony Martin and so on, it seems as though I wasn't so far off the mark. But Sky had two very, very strong riders today."
Heading into the Tour's first rest day tomorrow, Evans said his spirits remain high.
"We'll re-assess the situation day-by-day and of course we don't give up, that's for sure," he said. "There's still a lot more racing to go before Paris."
How the day panned out
The early standard was set by the Swedish TT champion Gustav Larsson (Vacansoleil), the 13th starter, who covered the course at an average speed of 45.8km.
Another Vacansoleil rider, Westra, then beat Larsson's time by 10sec.
Despite racing with a fractured bone in his wrist, World TT Champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma Quickstep) posted the fastest times at each check and finished the course at an average speed of 46.4km/h to eclipse the time of the Vacansoleil riders; he achieved this impressive time despite having a puncture on the course.
Sandy Casar (FDJ) was one of the surprises today: when he went past the 16.5km time check, he was 7sec behind Martin and 1sec ahead of Jens Voigt (RadioShack Nissan Trek) who, at the time, had set the second best times at all the checks.
The winner of the prologue, Fabian Cancellara raced the first 16.5km at an average speed of 45.8km/h and posted a time that was 39sec better than Martin at the same point. With 16km to go, Cancellara raced past his three-minute man and with 10km to he was ahead of Martin by 1m09s and, at the finish, he led by 1m19s – covering the course at an average of 47.6km/h.
As impressive as it was, the former leader of the youth classification – Tejay van Garderen (BMC) – eclipsed the times of the four-time World Champion at the 16.5km and 31.5km check... but only by two and three seconds, respectively. But at the finish, the American was 9sec behind the Swiss rider (van Garderen rode himself back into the Best Young Rider jersey though).
Froome beat van Garderen's time by 24sec at the 16.5km mark and it was the first hint that Sky was going to dominate the time trial. But there was a better time yet to come... after just 11km of racing, Wiggins had already added another 20sec to his advantage over the 2011 Tour champion.
Wiggins and Froome were men on a mission: they set the two fastest times at the first check. They were also fastest at 31.5km, 36sec and 20sec ahead of van Garderen, respectively.
Wiggins ultimately finished 35sec ahead of his teammate and improved his advantage over Evans who was sixth in the stage; there is now 1m53s between first and second overall. Froome's ride elevated him up the rankings from 6th overall to 3rd.
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