There was never any question that Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, the two top placements entering the final time trial of the Tour would do well.
But the two Sky Team leaders in the one and two positions obliterated the field in much the same flair as they did in the Pyrenees this Tour.
Luis Leon Sanchez established the time to beat in his run through the 53.5 km time trial from Bonneval to Chartres. But at the second and third time checks, Wiggins showed that he could beat all of the men competing for the best rider in the Tour de France, besting Vincenzo Nibali’s time by over five minutes, and his deputy Chris Froome’s time by over 2 minutes.
Nibali retained his lead to stay into 3rd position and make the podium in Paris.
Now when they come into Paris tomorrow in the ultimate stage, it will be the first time in Tour history that a British rider takes the Yellow Jersey, and indeed, that two British riders take the top two seats at the podium in the Champs Elysees.
One almost always associates the Brits with ruddy cheeks and a beer in hand, but these two reed-thin gents have exploded all of the caricatures of London style, and now, things will never be the same
Wiggins style could only be described as quiet and laid back, so much so that winning the Tour for him has seemed easy. No tantrums, no big talk, except the one time when a question from the media touched on fan conjecture that the Sky Team was doping. Then Wiggins showed his only moment of temper, unleashing a torrent of London Eastsider-flavored invective.
Aside from that one moment of weakness, which likely was a reflection of the passion and dedication the Sky Team has applied to their performance in this Tour, Wiggins has been almost too quietly competent.
None of the famous bike-throwing tantrums of Bjarne Riis, or the swagger of Lance Armstrong, and even the flair of el Pirata, Italian Pinati, may he rest in peace, or the famous posturing of all the other winners of the Tours and their stages over time, so many names come to mind.
Wiggins’ deputy Chris Froome showed serious strength in the mountain stages this year, and in some instances looked like he could best the Yellow Jersey.
But it was clear as Wiggins bettered Froome’s time at the time checks in today’s 53.5 km time trial, that there was a good reason to support Wiggins’ bid for top placement in Paris tomorrow.
In the end, Wiggins beat out Froome by over 3 minutes overall, and third position rider Italian Vincenzo Nibali of the Liquigas Cannondale Team by over 6 minutes.
The Liquigas-Cannondale Team never seemed to be able to take back time from the two English riders (Froome, originally from Kenya is a transplant to Great Britain), they tried mightily, their omnipresent green and blue uniforms often at the front of the pace in the most challenging mountain stages. But both of these tall, thin, quiet riders fought back without any seeming effort, then put in a final ‘snag’ by passing everyone to the finishes, or the ultimate ‘cabron’, leading out Mark Cavendish in a field sprint like Wiggins did in the flat stage yesterday (stage 18).
Phew, these two really took our collective breath away.
The other big story of the day was 23-year-old Tejay van Garderen who looked to take a leap into 4th position overall, hoping to beat out fourth place holder Jurgen van den Broeck.
Van garderen’s fifth best time overall was not enough to bridge the time gap with Belgian rider van den Broeck who held onto his fourth place in the final standings with 12 seconds over the youngster.
The Coloradan-native’s ride in this 99th Tour has added wonder and awe to Tour viewers who over the past two Tours since Armstrong left the field, have wondered who the new stars will be, all the while secretly fearing that any new star will cover the front pages any day with a doping suspension. He now will end the 99th edition of the grand tour with the White Jersey for the most promising young rider.
Peter Sagan also brought wonder and awe, scooping up the Green Sprinter’s Jersey with the speed and passion that burst onto the cynical cycling scene with comparable newness.
Haimar Zubeldia also managed to bring himself into 6th position overall by making up the 14 seconds between himself and defending 2011 champion Cadel Evans.
Overall Standings in the General Classification After Stage 19 (ASO)
|1.||GBRWIGGINS Bradley||101||SKY PROCYCLING||84h 26′ 31”|
|2.||GBRFROOME Christopher||105||SKY PROCYCLING||84h 29′ 52”||+ 03′ 21”|
|3.||ITANIBALI Vincenzo||51||LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE||84h 32′ 50”||+ 06′ 19”|
|4.||BELVAN DEN BROECK Jurgen||111||LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM||84h 36′ 46”||+ 10′ 15”|
|5.||USAVAN GARDEREN Tejay||9||BMC RACING TEAM||84h 37′ 35”||+ 11′ 04”|
|6.||ESPZUBELDIA Haimar||19||RADIOSHACK-NISSAN||84h 42′ 14”||+ 15′ 43”|
|7.||AUSEVANS Cadel||1||BMC RACING TEAM||84h 42′ 22”||+ 15′ 51”|
|8.||FRAROLLAND Pierre||29||TEAM EUROPCAR||84h 43′ 02”||+ 16′ 31”|
|9.||SLOBRAJKOVIC Janez||181||ASTANA PRO TEAM||84h 43′ 09”||+ 16′ 38”|
|10.||FRAPINOT Thibaut||146||FDJ-BIGMAT||84h 43′ 48”||+ 17′ 17”|
|11.||GERKLÖDEN Andréas||15||RADIOSHACK-NISSAN||84h 44′ 25”||+ 17′ 54”|
|12.||IRLROCHE Nicolas||79||AG2R LA MONDIALE||84h 46′ 04”||+ 19′ 33”|
|13.||USAHORNER Christopher||14||RADIOSHACK-NISSAN||84h 46′ 26”||+ 19′ 55”|
|14.||DENSORENSEN Chris Anker||178||TEAM SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK||84h 51′ 58”||+ 25′ 27”|
|15.||RUSMENCHOV Denis||131||KATUSHA TEAM||84h 53′ 53”||+ 27′ 22”|
|16.||BELMONFORT Maxime||16||RADIOSHACK-NISSAN||84h 55′ 01”||+ 28′ 30”|
|17.||ESPMARTINEZ Egoi||35||EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI||84h 58′ 17”||+ 31′ 46”|
|18.||PORCOSTA Rui Alberto||163||MOVISTAR TEAM||85h 03′ 34”||+ 37′ 03”|
|19.||RUSVORGANOV Eduard||139||KATUSHA TEAM||85h 04′ 47”||+ 38′ 16”|