The 2012 Tour de France is just underway, and one prologue stage’s worth of results must obviously be taken with a serious grain of salt in such a long race. Nevertheless, pre-race favorite Bradley Wiggins has to be encouraged by his showing in Saturday’s initial action.
The American standout—whose personal best in this race is a fourth-place finish in 2009—zipped through the prologue stage in 7’20," tying him for second place with Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel.
Only Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara turned in a better time—winning the stage by seven seconds.
Time trials like the prologue are one of Wiggins’ strengths, so the fact that he followed through on his reputation here suggests that he will be able to gain ground on some of his competitors in the longer trials to come. For example, Spain’s Samuel Sanchez—the defending King of the Mountains—will be a serious threat in the climbs (where Wiggins is also strong), but trails Wiggins by 33 seconds after the high-speed prologue.
There’s also a lot to be said for setting the tone—especially as the favorite. If Wiggins had come out flat in this stage, he’d have had to wait six stages for a serious climb to give him another clear edge. Instead, he’s close to the top of the standings already and needs only to avoid losing too much ground before he hits his stride in the mountains.
Bradley Wiggins will have plenty more chances to lose this Tour de France. By not putting himself in a hole from the get-go, he’s given himself that much better a chance to win it.
Complete standings can be found on the Tour’s official website, here.