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Team Sky double up in the mountains
Jul 8th, 12. After a dominant display, Team Sky ended Stage 7 of the Tour de France with a stage winner in Chris Froome and a new yellow jersey on Bradley Wiggins.
For his efforts, Froome was also rewarded with the KOM jersey.
"It's an incredible feeling to have done what we've done and it hasn't sunk in yet," said Wiggins, the new leader of the 2012 Tour de France.
"It sounds corny but this is something I've dreamt of since I was a child – sat on the home trainer in Kilburn watching my hero Miguel Indurain do it.
"Those dreams have come true now and I'm sat here at the top of a mountain in yellow. It's phenomenal."
Today's first day in the mountains this Tour de France was always going to show who were the real contenders, but quite how few that number was when the stage finished up the La Planche des Belles Filles was surprising.
Thanks to Team Sky's efforts, only two rivals were able to stay in direct contention today - Cadel Evans (BMC) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas Cannondale). All other GC riders lost time - many of them 2min.
After yesterday's injury inducing stage, the peloton would have been excused for taking things slowly today, but instead they raced the fastest opening hour of the Tour to date - 43.9km (40.7km in the second hour).
Within 15km a group of seven riders went free. As the best placed of the break riders, Christophe Riblon (AG2R) became the virtual leader of the Tour when his group reached a time gap of 5m40s ahead of the peloton. After the second of the day's three categorised climbs, the time gap was down to 3m45s.
With 30km to go, the peloton was led by BMC, Garmin Sharp Barracuda and Team Sky riders. The peloton was at 2m45s with 30km to go; 2m20s with 25km to go; 1m45s with 20km to go; 1m15s with 15km to go before finally being caught.
Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen made sure his Team Sky teammates arrived at the base of the final climb within striking distance of the escapees but then he peeled off and let Michael Rogers take control.
Michael Rogers then eliminated all but a handful of others up the early parts of the 5.9km climb. He handed over the pace setting to fellow Australian Richie Porte who set such a pace that only four men could remain on his wheel: his Team Sky team leader Wiggins, Froome, defending Tour champion Cadel Evans, Italy's big hope Vincenzo Nibali and Estonia wünderkind Rein Taaramae.
Fabian Cancellara's time in the yellow jersey ended when the RadioShack Nissan Trek rider lost contact with the front group with 5km left to ride.
Cancellara's teammate Frank Schleck saw his chances slip away with him with 3km to go, as did Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Denis Menchov (Katusha), Jani Brajkovic (Astana) and Nicholas Roche (Ag2R La Mondiale).
Unfortunately for Jurgan Van den Broeck (Lotto Belisol), he had a mechanical problem just before the final climb and although he powered back up to the lead group thanks to his teammates and friends, he spent so much energy in the chase that he had no chance of following the other GC specialists once it got really steep.
From the group of five, Evans attacked with 1km to go. His move forced a reaction from Sky and it was Froome who got up to and around Evans to take the stage win. Evans and Wiggins crossed the finish line 2sec later.
It is Froome's first Tour de France win and Team Sky's first Tour de France yellow jersey.
"It wasn't the plan to go for the stage win, my only concern was keeping Bradley up there," Froome said. "We'd come to see this climb previously and I knew what the finish was like. When it came to it I thought 'I'm there, I've got the legs, so why not give it a kick and see what happens'.
"I just couldn't believe it when Cadel couldn't follow my wheel. I thought 'wow! This could actually come off, and it did.
Evans was quick to praise the Kenyan born Brit for his performance today, saying his performance was "incredible".
P.S. RoadCycling.co.nz arrived in Paris yesterday, jet lag kicked in today, but tomorrow we expect to be back to full strength.
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