Wiggins on verge of history
July 21, 2012 16:59 pm
Team GB cyclist Bradley Wiggins is set to become the first British winner of the Tour de France after an imperious victory in the stage 19 time-trial to Chartres.
In the 99th edition of the sport's most fabled race, the 32-year-old Londoner is poised to ride Sunday's 120-kilometre 20th stage from Rambouillet to the Champs-Elysees in Paris knowing he will return home victorious.
Wiggins, a three-time Olympic champion, began the 53.5km time-trial from Bonneval to Chartres with an advantage of two minutes five seconds over Team Sky colleague Chris Froome and enhanced his hold on the maillot jaune with a scintillating display against the clock to take a 3mins 21secs lead into the final day.
Wiggins completed the route in one hour four minutes 12 seconds.
Froome was 1min 16secs slower in 1.05:29 to place second on the stage and all but confirm second place overall, with the final stage effectively a procession to the finish on the Champs-Elysees.
Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) is set to complete the podium despite not being in contentionin the time trial. The Italian finished in 1.07:51 to place 16th on the stage, 3:38 behind Wiggins, and fall 6:19 adrift overall.
The margin of Wiggins' victory answered many of those who questioned why Froome, who appeared marginally stronger in the mountains, was not Team Sky's Tour leader.
Team Sky were launched in 2010 with the stated aim of winning the Tour with a clean British rider within five years - it is a target Dave Brailsford and his squad, through Wiggins, are set to achieve in three.
Froome is also on the verge of history - no Briton has finished on the Tour podium in 98 previous editions, with Wiggins' 2009 fourth place equalling Robert Millar's 1984 best. Now there are set to be two.
The last time two riders from the same nation finished first and second in the Tour was 1984, when Laurent Fignon finished ahead of Bernard Hinault.
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