|(image credit: Haggisnl CC BY 2.0)|
The 31-year-old, who was born in Belgium to British parents (his father Gary was also a professional cyclist) but moved to London with his mother following her divorce, was 11th over the line behind Bernard Hinault's top tip Tom Boonen while Sky team mate Geraint Thomas was 10th. However, he recorded the same time as the first 20 riders - giving him a 6" advantage over Levi Leipheimer in the General Classification.
Becoming Britain's first Tour de France winner has been Bradley's main aim for some years now. Last year he showed up at the start line of cycling's greatest event looking as though he was made of nothing but bone and sinew, ready to take on the likes of Contador and Schleck on the tough climbs in the Pyrenees and Alps, but his prospects were shattered when he suffered a broken collar bone during a mass pile-up in Stage 7. The Tour is still some months away, but if he can maintain the form he's currently on and with this year's race featuring plenty of time trial kilometres and fewer mountains it seems that 2012 offers his best chance to realise the dream that he and all British cycling fans share.