Tour de France 2012: Bradley Wiggins Still Rider to Beat

Oren FriedmanCorrespondent IIJuly 15, 2012

FOIX, FRANCE - JULY 15:  Race leader Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain and SKY Procycling crosses the finishline in the peloton on stage fourteen of the 2012 Tour de France from Limoux to Foix on July 15, 2012 in Foix, France.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Despite an underwhelming finish in Stage 14 of the 2012 Tour de France, Britain’s Bradley Wiggins is still the tour’s rider to beat.

Spain’s Luis Leon Sanchez used a late breakaway to win the 118.7 mile ride from Limoux to Foix, bumping him up to 58th overall. 

Still, Wiggins is holding onto a 2:05 overall lead over fellow Sky teammate Chris Froome and a 2:23 lead over Italy's Vincenzo Nibali. 

Although he has not won every stage, Wiggins' consistency has been paramount to the Briton’s ability to hold his lead. 

He finished third in the seventh stage and first in the ninth stage by a sizable margin. In the 28.5-mile time trial from Arc-et-Senanas to Besancon, Wiggins finished 35 seconds ahead of runner-up Froome. 

The win illustrated the dominance that Wiggins has used to hold onto the yellow jersey. 

With an overall time of 6:41:14, Wiggins is pacing the tour as it heads into the Pyrenees. His dominant lead of over two minutes will be difficult to overcome. 

If reigning champion Cadel Evans hopes to make a comeback, he will need to do some serious damage in the next couple stages. 

Looking to become Britain’s first Tour de France winner, Wiggins should continue to rely on his teammate Froome to push him to the next level.

The two appear to be the most dynamic duo on the tour, and could finish one-two this year.

Although Sky currently trails Radioshack by 12:38, the British team could use the next few mountain stages to pull ahead. 

Stage 16 might be the most critical for Wiggins and co. A brutal 122.4 mile climb in the Pyrenees from Pau to Bagneres-de-Luchon, the ride will have serious yellow jersey implications. 

Froome is Sky’s best climber, currently in sixth in mountain points with 32. Grabbing the polka dot jersey will be an uphill battle, as Froome trails Sweden’s Fredrik Kessiakoff for King of the Mountains by 37 points. 

Nevertheless, it will be a team effort from Wiggins and Froome if the two hope to bring some eternal riding glory to England. 

Heading into the 98.5 mile ride from Samatan to Pau, everyone is still chasing Wiggins, as he looks like the rider to beat in this year’s tour.