BESANCON, France, July 9, 2012 – World time trial champions Tony
Martin and Fabian Cancellara were left way off the pace Monday as Team Sky
scored another impressive result on the Tour de France.
In the first of two long time trials race leader Bradley Wiggins tightened
his grip on the yellow jersey by claiming a maiden stage victory that left
defending champion Cadel Evans in second overall at 1min 53sec.
Wiggins, a three-time Olympic track pursuit champion, clocked a winning
time of 51min 24sec for the rolling and slightly technical 41.5 km course
between Arc-et-Senans and Besancon.
The icing on the cake for Sky was Chris Froome’s second place at 35sec, two
days after the Kenyan-born Briton claimed his maiden stage at the first
hilltop finish at La Planche des Belles Filles.
Martin, the reigning world champion from Germany, set the early pace but by
the end his time of 53:40 was over two minutes slower than Wiggins.
The Omega-Pharma rider, who is hoping to challenge for Olympic gold in
London later this month, did not expect to win.
He has been racing with a broken scaphoid in his wrist since a crash early
last week and lost time due to a puncture near the start.
“I felt not too bad, but I had a flat tire after about 4-5 kilometers, so I
really lost my rhythm after that,” said the German.
“But I know it wasn’t a good time for me.”
He added: “I suffered, but my hand was only really sore when I went over a
hole in the road.”
Cancellara eventually took over as provisional leader but first Froome then
Wiggins pushed him down a place each to third.
The RadioShack rider, who won the prologue on June 30 and wore the yellow
jersey until handing it to Wiggins on Saturday, said the demands of Sunday’s
hilly eighth stage in the Swiss Jura did not do him any favors.
“Yesterday was a really hard stage,” said Cancellara, another favorite for
Olympic gold in London.
“Today I was totally focused and gave it everything I had. I’m happy
because it was a difficult course for me, a typical Tour de France time trial.”