Monday 5 March 2012

Wiggins leads Paris-Nice GC

Having surprised the world with a stunning performance and second place at yesterday's rain-soaked opening time trial, British rider Bradley Wiggins has taken the yellow jersey of Paris-Nice after putting in a similarly impressive ride today.

(image credit: Haggisnl CC BY 2.0)
Wiggo broke away from the peloton with a select group of twelve riders halfway through the stage, a brave move for any General Classification contender that shows enormous confidence and a supreme ability to tailor tactics to a specific parcours. A number of other riders bridged the gap, swelling numbers to around 30 before a crash took out several men, but the peloton found itself outclassed and unable to reabsorb the group. By the time they reached the 10km to go marker, Wiggins' gang had an advantage of over 2' and the result began to look inevitable.

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.

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