Bradley Wiggins padded his overall lead at the Tour de France Monday, winning the stage 9 time trial in Bresançon. Wiggins (Sky) was the last man off the start ramp and set a blistering time of 51:24, 35 seconds better than teammate Chris Froome.
Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) finished sixth on the stage to defend his second-place overall position. Froome jumped to third overall, with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) fourth and Denis Menchov (Katusha) fifth.
Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) was third on the stage, at 57 seconds. American Tejay van Garderen (BMC) topped the former world champion at the two intermediate time checks, but finished fourth, nine seconds behind Cancellara.
“It’s been a two tough days, yesterday especially, and you never know how you will recover, but the time trial is what I do best. I know the routine from when I wake up in the morning up until I roll out of the start ramp. I knew I felt great from the first pedal stroke in the warm up, I knew I was on a good one,” said Wiggins. “This is what we’ve trained for. During the ride, I had Sean Yates in my earpiece, saying ‘Think of all those hours, all those sacrifices, this is what it’s been about.'” That’s what motivated me — missing my kids’ birthdays, being away at training camps.
“I didn’t set out for the stage win, today was a battle for GC, but to get the stage win is fantastic as well.”
Wiggins carried a 10-second lead over Evans into the 41.5km race against the clock between Arc-et-Senans and Besançon, giving the Australian hope of staying close ahead of the mountain stages to come later this week.
However, the Englishman turned on the turbos from the start of the slightly technical, rolling course to give the 2011 champion a small mountain to climb.
Wiggins now leads Evans by 1:53 ahead of the race’s first rest day. The 99th Tour resumes Wednesday with another mountain test, this time in the Alps.
And with the ever-impressive Froome moving up to third, at 2:07 behind Wiggins, Sky has widened its tactical options. Wiggins, who crashed out of the race on stage 7 last year, increasingly looks like he will win this year’s race.
Despite focusing on distancing his rivals, the Londoner was happy to soak up claiming his first win on the world’s biggest bike race.
“We came here and did a good reconnaissance of the course, which has lots of little bends and is quite technical at the finish,” he said. “But today wasn’t about winning. I was thinking more about the GC battle with (Vincenzo) Nibali and Cadel. The stage wasn’t my priority.”
Nibali, who finished 2:07 behind Wiggins on the stage, is now fourth overall with Russian Denis Menchov (Katusha), a former winner of the Vuelta a España and Giro d’Italia, in fifth at 3:02.
Despite distancing several of his rivals, Wiggins was quick to stress that there is a long way to go to Paris.
“It’s another day at the Tour but there’s a long way to go,” he said. “After the rest day it will be a whole different ballgame… And anything can happen, a bad day or a crash, so let’s just take it a day at a time.”
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