Stage 9: Arc-et-Senans – Besançon individual time trial 42km

Tour de France 9: Wiggins dominates time trial

Bradley Wiggins of Britain, wearing the overall leader’s yellow jersey, en route to victory in the 9th stage of the Tour de France (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

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Team Sky stamped their authority on the Tour de France with a
commanding display in the 41.5-kilometre time trial to Besançon. Race
leader Bradley Wiggins won in a time of 51:24 with teammate Chris Froome
in second at 35 seconds. The result moved Froome up to third in the
general classification and strengthened Wiggins’s grip on yellow.

Defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC) lost time at each time check
point before finishing 6th, 1:43 behind Wiggins. Vincenzo Nibali
(Liquigas-Cannondale), who started the day in third place overall,
managed to limit his losses, finishing in 8th, 2:07 down on Wiggins, and
now lies 4th in the race for yellow.

“I’m just really pleased with how I put the day together, mentally,
too. The noise when I rolled off the ramp was incredible and not letting
that phase me and not going out too hard. So I’m just really satisfied
with how I put the whole day together an that’s what I’ve been focusing
,. So at the moment it’s just relief and pride in myself for doing
that,” Wiggins said.

“When I get back tonight, that when you start thinking about the
context of how it fits into the whole Tour and everything. Numbers are
being thrown around, you got this on Cadel, this on him but at the
moment it’s a lot to take in.”

Tour de France stage 9 highlights (courtesy ASO)

Heading into the stage BMC had hoped to limit their losses to less
than a minute but after just a few kilometres of Evans’s ride Wiggins
was up on the 2011 winner. At the first time check, 16.5km into the
stage, Wiggins cruised through at a time of 21:05, five seconds up on
Froome but already over a minute up on Evans. The Sky pair obliterated
the time of Fabian Cancellara and from there Evans began a campaign of
damage limitation.

At the second time check at 31.5 kilometres it looked to be working
with Wiggins only adding 19 seconds to his time on the Australian but by
the finish the British rider had extended his lead to 1:43, the exact
time gap between the two riders posted at last month’s Dauphine.

Earlier in the day, world time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega
Pharma-QuickStep) cut a sorry figure on the start ramp in Arc-et-Senans.
With a wrist strapped due to a broken bone the German was perhaps
riding his last stage in this year’s Tour but his luck, which as
deserted him throughout the race, was in no mood of changing, and within
the first few kilometres suffered a puncture. Despite the misfortune
Martin posted the fastest time at each check point to take an early but
incomprehensive lead.

Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) put Martin out of his misery
setting a time 39 seconds faster at the first check, and 1:19 quicker at
the finish. However, when French time trial champion Sylvain Chavanel
(Omega Pharma-QuickStep) came through the first check just a handful of
seconds down on the Swiss rider, it was clear that the former world time
trial champion was far from firing on all cylinders.

Fabian Cancellara crosses for third

It wasn’t until Tejay van Garderen (BMC) came through the first check
three seconds faster that it was confirmed that Cancellara would not
repeat his prologue success. The American, riding in just his second
Tour, looked at ease over the testing first part of the course, catching
Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) for three minutes and going fastest at
the second check. Although he tired by the finish, crossing the line
nine seconds down on Cancellara, the RadioShack-Nissan rider’s position
was in the line of fire.

By now the GC contenders, Froome included in that echelon, were on
the road. The Kenyan-born rider, who beat Wiggins in an individual time
trial at the Vuelta last September, stormed to a 24-second lead at the
first check. Denis Menchov (Katusha), in his Russian national time trial
champion’s kit, could only manage 7th with Nibali in 10th and Evans
12th. Wiggins was still to reach the 16.5km mark but his rhythm and
speed looked on course, and he crossed the check point five seconds
faster than Froome.

Sky’s Froome was looking almost as assured as Wiggins in his time
trial position, out of the saddle on the rolling terrain, and faster
than Van Garderen at the second check point. Wiggins came in 16 seconds
faster than Froome, cementing his position as Sky’s undoubted leader in
the race.

Menchov crossed the line, then Nibali, but both were off the pace and
looking set to lose over two minutes. Froome meanwhile had crushed
Cancellara by 22 seconds with just Evans and Wiggins left on the road.

Having gained 35 seconds on Froome, 1:43 on Evans and over 2 minutes
on his nearest rival Wiggins will be greatly satisfied with his day and
tomorrow’s rest day will give the British rider time to let the events
sink in. The Tour is far from over but Wiggins has landed a heavy blow.