2012 Tour De France Stage 9: Bradley Wiggins Storms to Victory, Evans Falters

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2012 Tour De France Stage 9: Bradley Wiggins Storms to Victory, Evans Falters
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

It’s called the race of truth.

There’s nowhere to hide in the individual time trial, no team mates to slipstream behind, no domestiques to be at your beck and call, just one man and his bike racing against the clock.

The first of two in this year’s race was held on a challenging 41 km course from Arc-et-Senans  to Besançon. The course had some challenging climbs and some technical corners towards the finish, giving a true test of power and riding ability.

Tony Martin (Omega Pharma--Quickstep)—who is the reigning world champion—set the early pace despite being hampered by a flat tyre in the first five kilometres. He is also suffering from a fractured scaphoid bone in his wrist—one that is likely to see him abandon his Tour in the next few days.

While that time stood for most of the day, it could not stand up to the machine that is Spartacus—Fabian Cancellara.

Cancellara passed Bauke Mollema—who started three minutes before him—inside 20km and went on to smash a minute and 20 seconds off Martin’s impressive time. It would become the benchmark against which all others would be measured.

Impressive as it was, Cancellara is over 13 minutes off the pace in the Tour. We applaud the effort, but we also don’t really care.

The interest was only ever going to be focussed on the top 10 riders.

Bradley Wiggins’ Team Sky teammate Chris Froome set a blistering pace, taking 27 seconds out of Cancellara’s stunning time at the first time check. Wiggins then eclipsed this time by a further five seconds—over a minute faster than Cadel Evans.

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While Evans fans would have been clinging to the notion that the time trial is all about the finish—not the start—there can only have been concern in the BMC camp at the magnitude of the gap to the Sky pair.

Evans went through the first time check in 13th place, but had improved to sixth by the second check.

This was never going to be about position in the stage, it was only ever about time.

Wiggins took the stage by 35 seconds over Froome and one minute and 43 seconds over Evans. He now leads overall by one minute 53 seconds and, most unnervingly for BMC, Froome has vaulted into third place, 14 seconds behind Evans.

Team Sky now has a double barrelled attack on Evans. As the high mountains beckon, Sky can now use Froome to attack Evans, knowing that he can’t afford to ignore Froome, while Wiggins conserves energy.

If he’s going to win, Evans now has to dictate the pace. He needs to attack incessantly, force Sky to respond to him and hope that he has the edge when the going gets really tough.

But that’s the future. For now, it is time to acknowledge that Bradley Wiggins rode one of the all-time great individual time-trials. He has stamped his authority on this race and thrown down the gauntlet to any who wish to challenge.

It will be interesting to see who picks it up. We’ll find out after the rest day.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Standings after Stage 9 (courtesy letour.fr)

1.

WIGGINS Bradley

SKY PROCYCLING

39h 09' 20''

 

2.

EVANS Cadel

BMC RACING TEAM

39h 11' 13''

+ 01' 53''

3.

FROOME Christopher

SKY PROCYCLING

39h 11' 27''

+ 02' 07''

4.

NIBALI Vincenzo

LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE

39h 11' 43''

+ 02' 23''

5.

MENCHOV Denis

KATUSHA TEAM

39h 12' 22''

+ 03' 02''

6.

ZUBELDIA Haimar

RADIOSHACK-NISSAN

39h 12' 39''

+ 03' 19''

7.

MONFORT Maxime

RADIOSHACK-NISSAN

39h 13' 43''

+ 04' 23''

8.

VAN GARDEREN Tejay

BMC RACING TEAM

39h 14' 34''

+ 05' 14''

9.

VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen

LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM

39h 14' 40''

+ 05' 20''

10.

ROCHE Nicolas

AG2R LA MONDIALE

39h 14' 49''

+ 05' 29''

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