Bradley Wiggins of Belgium is the overall leader after Stage 7 of the Tour de France, but the stage belonged to his teammate Christopher Froome.
The Kenyan-born but British-licensed Froome aided his teammate's cause to hold off Cadel Evans and then captured his own triumph.
In the rough and tumble final 100 meters, Froome out-climbed Evans. It was the first win of a stage for Froome in his career, and it was huge because it was the first mountaintop finish.
He earned the polka-dot jersey for the event's best mountain-climbing rider. Team SKY made a big statement in this stage, with Froome's finishing first and Wiggins' finishing third. They solidified themselves as the premier climbing team.
These steep stages and finishes are the aspects of the event that separate the men from the boys, and Froome proved to be the best man today.
The leader through most of the first six stages, Fabian Cancellara, faded in this stage.
It was an expected fall for Cancellara, who simply didn't have the power to compete in the mountain stages.
Here are the final results for Stage 7 and the current standings for the event (per NBCSports.com):
Stage 7 and Overall Standings
|Place||Name||Time||Time Gap||Team||Bib No. ||Age|
Team to Watch
Froome pushed through for the stage victory. It culminated the rigorous final 100 meters of this, the first mountain stage.
Team SKY's teamwork through this stage helped prevent Evans from getting ahead of Wiggins in the overall, but it also paved the way for Froome's run.
This selfless riding will help keep Wiggins with the yellow jersey, but it also shares the sugar with his teammates.
One to Watch
It's still Wiggins. Even though he shared the spotlight with a teammate today, he is still ahead by 10 seconds, after finishing locked with rival Evans.
The two men were virtually even at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in the stage standings.
They were favorites coming in, but with Team SKY's performing so well, Wiggins has a bit of an edge, in my opinion.
Cancellara is not a climber, and he predictably slipped in the standings from first to 11th. When the trek flattens out, he'll look to regain some ground.
But the overall balance of Wiggins and Evans will likely prove too much for him to overcome.
Stage 8 figures to be even more difficult than Stage 7. It's only 98 miles, but it has eight categorized climbs.
This is not a stage that will lend itself to those that don't excel in climbing.
The stage finishes just across the border into Switzerland. I expect another strong performance from Wiggins and Evans.
Froome proved he is truly a force to be reckoned with, but we'll see if he can out-shine Wiggins and Evans again.
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