Wiggins inches closer to Tour glory

19 July 2012 / 16:51

Bradley Wiggins has moved within three days of becoming the first British winner of the Tour de France after successfully negotiating the final day in the Pyrenees and putting further time on his rivals for glory.

Wiggins began the 143.5-kilometre route from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Peyragudes in the yellow jersey for a 10th day and with a lead of two minutes five seconds over Team Sky colleague Chris Froome, with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) 18 seconds further adrift.

Nibali knew he had to make a move, with Wiggins likely to perform better than him in Saturday's penultimate day time-trial but Wiggins, with able support from Froome, distanced Nibali on the finishing ascent. The Italian conceded 18 seconds to Wiggins and fell 2mins 41secs behind in the standings.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won the stage, Froome was 19 seconds behind in second place, with Wiggins on his wheel in third.

Valverde led in the closing stages of the route as Wiggins took to the front of an eight-man group 4km from the summit of the day's final ascent, the 15.4km climb to Peyragudes.

Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) attacked, increasing the pace, before Froome took to the front, keeping the tempo high. The relentless pace saw the group disintegrate and Nibali lost contact 3km from the summit.

Froome forged on and Wiggins latched on to his wheel. The Team Sky duo pushed on as their rivals lost touch and the Britons closed in on Valverde. Froome implored Wiggins to keep up, eager to distance Nibali in his own bid to make it on to the podium - something no Briton has done before in 98 previous Tours.

Valverde passed through 2km to go with an advantage of 40 seconds and Froome continued to push.

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-Bigmat) bridged the gap to the Team Sky duo, with Froome leading Wiggins and Nibali struggling to stay in contact.

Froome and Wiggins pushed forward as they finished second and third on the stage to enhance their places at the top of the general classification standings.