Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins all but confirmed an historic Tour de France victory in the best possible style as he powered to an emphatic in the penultimate stage time trial.
The 32-year-old underlined his superiority over all his rivals with another sublime display in the ‘race of truth’, stopping the clock in one hour, four minutes and 13 seconds for the 53.5-kilometre route from Bonneval to Chartres.
That was one minute and 16 seconds faster than team-mate Chris Froome who took second on the day to match the position at the top of the general classification. Luis-Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) was 1:50 back in third while Team Sky’s Richie Porte was fifth.
It means Wiggins goes into Sunday’s largely processional stage into Paris with a huge advantage at the top of those standings – 3:21 over Froome and 6:19 over third-placed Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale).
Wiggins now has 24 hours to wait to be crowned the first British winner of the Tour de France while Team Sky’s dominance is set to be rewarded with a famous 1-2.
“I wouldn’t say it was a lap of honour, because it hurt, but I just wanted to finish the job off in style. There was a lot of emotion in the last 10k. Everything was going through my mind.
“All the years of getting to this point, my family, disappointments, crashing out the Tour last year, watching Cadel in this very position a year ago in Grenoble. I always imagined what that would feel like and now I know.
“I was thinking about my wife and children, my grandfather, my nan, my mother. That was just spurring me on with every pedal stroke.
“It sounds cheesy but your whole life to get to this point – it’s a defining moment in your life. From the minute I got into cycling as a kid it’s all summed up for today.”
1. Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) 1:04:13
2. Chris Froome (Team Sky) +1:16
3. Luis Leon Sánchez (Rabobank) +1:50
4. Peter VELITS (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) + 2:02
5. Richie PORTE (Sky) + 2:25
1. Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) 84:26:31
2. Chris Froome (Team Sky) +3:21
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) +6:19
4. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK (Lotto-Belisol, +10:15
5. Tejay VAN GARDEREN (BMC Racing) +11:04
Photo © OPQS/Tim de Waele