/ Cycling

Bradley Wiggins extends his Tour advantage and Nicolas Roche stays top ten

Updated: Monday, 09 Jul 2012 18:20 | Comments

Nicolas Roche is in 10th position after nine stages
Nicolas Roche is in 10th position after nine stages

Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins enhanced his advantage in the yellow jersey with a stunning victory on stage nine's individual time-trial today.

Wiggins (Team Sky) clocked 51 minutes 24 seconds to triumph on the 41.5-kilometre race against the clock from Arc-et-Senans to Besancon.

The triple Olympic champion, who on Saturday succeeded prologue winner Fabian Cancellara in the maillot jaune, began the day with a 10-second lead over defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) and enters tomorrow's rest day with an advantage of 1min 53secs.

Evans placed sixth on the day in 53:07, as Team Sky celebrated a one-two on the stage, with Chris Froome second in 51:59. Olympic time-trial champion Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) was third in 52:21.

Froome, who won stage seven, climbed into third place overall, 2:07 behind his team-mate and 14 seconds behind Evans.

Nicolas Roche remains in the top 10 while Daniel Martin is in 67th. Roche finished 23rd today in 54:32, while Martin was 51st with a time of 56:10.

The time-trial, coming ahead of tomorrow's rest day, could be significant in the race for the maillot jaune, with this year's Tour featuring more than 100km of racing against the clock before the finish in Paris on 22 July.

Wiggins is now firmly in pole position to be the first British Tour winner - and Froome could join him on the podium.

The day's events were also a useful marker for the 44km 1 August Olympic time-trial at Hampton Court, when Wiggins hopes to add to his haul of three Olympic gold medals.

Wiggins and Froome are Britain's Olympic time-trial selections.

As race leader, Wiggins started last, three minutes behind nearest rival Evans, who he was seeking to beat to Besancon, the watch-making centre of France.

At the first time check, after 16.5km, Wiggins led the field in 21:05 and was beating Evans by 1:02. Froome was five seconds behind his team-mate.

Wiggins again led through the second time check, at 31.5km, in 39:02, 16 seconds faster than Froome and 1:19 ahead of Evans.

The 32-year-old maintained his scintillating pace in the final quarter of the race to triumph by 35 seconds from Froome, with Cancellara a further 22 seconds behind.

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), who began the day in third overall, 16 seconds behind, finished in 53:31 to place eight on the stage and fall to fourth place, 16 seconds behind Froome.

Germany's Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), the world time-trial champion, clocked 53:40 to place 12th despite wearing a cast on his fractured wrist and later revealed he suffered a puncture.

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