Tour de France - Wiggins dominates time trial, Tour all but won
Bradley Wiggins will ride into Paris as the first British winner of the Tour de France after a superb final time trial in Chartres.
Wiggins completed the flat 53.5km individual time trial in a blistering time of one hour, four minutes and 13 seconds to beat Sky team-mate Chris Froome by 1:16.
Spain’s Luis Leon Sanchez led the ‘race of truth’ for a long period before seeing his effort toppled by Froome and then Wiggins in quick succession. The Rabobank rider settled for third place, 1:50 slower than Wiggins. Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) put in a solid performance to preserve his third place on the podium.
“I wanted to go out with a bang,” said Wiggins after his second time trial win of the Tour. “This is what I ultimately do best: time trialling. It was a superb course and I just wanted to finish the job off in style.
“There was a lot of emotion in the last 10km there when I knew I was ahead. Everything was going through my mind - all the years of getting to this point, all the disappointments like crashing out of the Tour last year. It doesn't get much bigger than this.”
Wiggins will ride to Paris with a 3:21 lead over Froome, with Nibali 6:19 down in third.
Defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC) had a day to forget after finishing 5:54 behind Wiggins. Evans was also caught by BMC team-mate Tejay van Garderen with 20km remaining.
American Van Garderen, the white jersey as the race’s best young rider, posted the seventh best time to secure his fifth place in the GC while Evans dropped below Spain’s Haimar Zubeldia (RadioShack) into seventh, almost 16 minutes down on the new champion.
Another youngster, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), secured 10th place with a spirited ride while French compatriot Pierre Rolland (Europcar) did enough to retain his eighth place in the GC – the highest for the host nation.
The top five in Paris is completed by Belgian Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) who will finish the race 10:15 down on Britain’s first ever Tour de France victor.
Wiggins’s victory was his second stage success in the 2012 Tour after he beat team-mate Froome in the race’s previous time trial in Besancon for stage nine. It was Team Sky’s fifth victory of a dominant race – and Britain’s sixth following additional stage wins for Team Sky’s Mark Cavendish (twice), Froome and David Millar (Garmin-Sharp).
"It's been an amazing Tour for us but today did not come as any surprise," said Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford. "It's all gone to plan and Brad showed that he's the best rider in this race. This is a Tour that suited Bradley and you can see why we stuck with him."
Wiggins has never been lower than second place in the Tour’s GC after completing the opening time trial in Liege on 30th June seven seconds slower than Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara.
The 32-year-old took the yellow jersey after placing third at La Planche des Belles Filles in stage seven in the Jura mountains, won by Froome, two days before the first time trial in Besancon consolidated the pair’s dominance.
Further success in Chartres has all but confirmed Wiggins as the first British winner of the Tour de France in its 109-year history. Wiggins arrived at the Tour having already made history after becoming the first man to win Paris-Nice, the Tour of Romandie and the Criterium du Dauphine stage races in the same season.
With Froome joining Wiggins on the podium in an historic British one-two, it also represents the first time two riders from the same team have topped the overall standings since 1997 when Jan Ullrich beat defending champion and Telekom team-mate Bjarne Riis. The last time two riders from the same nation topped the standings was back in 1984 when Laurent Fignon beat fellow Frenchman Bernard Hinault.
The Tour concludes on Sunday with a 120km processional stage to Paris which is expected to culminate in a bunch sprint on the Champs Elysees.