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Wiggins strengthens grip on Tour de France after time trial success

updated 11:26 AM EDT, Tue July 10, 2012
Bradley Wiggins celebrates after a dominant performance saw him take control of the Tour de France
Bradley Wiggins celebrates after a dominant performance saw him take control of the Tour de France
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins wins stage nine of the Tour de France
  • Wiggins retains yellow jersey with dominant performance on time trial leg
  • Briton now leads main rival Cadel Evans by one minute and 53 seconds
  • Wiggins' teammate Chris Froome moves up to third in overall standings

(CNN) -- Bradley Wiggins produced a dominant performance to win stage nine of the Tour de France and edge nearer to a first ever victory in cycling's most prestigious race.

The Briton was 35 seconds quicker than his nearest challenger on the 41.5km time trial leg between Arc et Senans and Besancon, finishing in 51 minutes and 24 seconds.

It meant he struck a potentially decisive blow to his main rival, Australian Cadel Evans, who now trails Wiggins by one minute and 53 seconds in the overall classification after finishing in sixth place.

Wiggins' Team Sky colleague Chris Froome finished the stage in second and has now jumped up to third in the overall picture, 14 seconds behind BMC Racing's Evans.

It leaves Sky in a healthy spot with a rest day to follow on Tuesday, Wiggins underlining his pre-race tag as the strong favorite.

Bradley Wiggins, left, celebrates on the finish line with teammate Michael Rogers of Australia after becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France on Sunday, July 22, in Paris. Bradley Wiggins, left, celebrates on the finish line with teammate Michael Rogers of Australia after becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France on Sunday, July 22, in Paris.
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"Time-trialling is what I do best," he told reporters. "I know exactly the routine I need to do. I felt great from the first pedal stroke and I knew I was in for a good one.

"We came here and did a good reconnaissance of the course, which has lots of little bends and is quite technical at the finish.

"This is what we have trained for. The graft during the winter, missing the kid's birthday having been at training camps, this is what it is for. To get the stage win is fantastic."

With the Tour now moving into the Alps, Wiggins is now the leading contender to take his first ever Tour de France win, with such a big lead to protect.

But he said: "It's another day at the Tour but there's a long way to go. After the rest day it will be a whole different ball game. And anything can happen, a bad day or a crash, so let's just take it a day at a time."

It was also a big day for Froome, who catapulted himself into contention with a powerful ride. Team Sky now have options as they enter the mountain phase of the Tour.

Froome told reporters: "There is no tactics in something like today. This is by far the hardest event in cycling. You just have to go as fast as you can and turn yourself inside out to get the best time.

"It is good to know you are on track for a good time, but you have to be careful you do not overcook it so it is a fine line to gauge that effort.

"I am really happy with today and I went hard at it. That is all I can do. I know I haven't won so there are no big celebrations, but there will be for Bradley."

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