Tour de France: Bradley Wiggins strengthens grip on yellow jersey

Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins strengthened his grip on the Tour de France's yellow jersey with a stunning win in the stage nine time trial.

Wiggins clocked 51 minutes, 24 seconds on the 41.5km route from Arc et Senans to Besancon, 35 seconds faster than compatriot and team-mate Chris Froome.

It was the 32-year-old triple Olympic champion's first stage win on the Tour.

Defending champion Cadel Evans remains second overall but is now one minute and 53 seconds behind Wiggins.

The Australian had begun the day only 10 seconds adrift but ended up fighting to stay ahead of Froome in the General Classification, after the Team Sky rider's impressive performance saw him move up to third, a further 14 seconds back.

Tuesday is the first rest day, with the Tour heading for the mountains on Wednesday.

Wiggins, who assumed the overall lead on Saturday, said: "Time-trialling is what I do best. I know exactly the routine what I need to do. I felt great from the first pedal stroke and I knew I was in for a good one.

"This is what we have trained for. The graft during the winter, missing the kids' birthdays having been at training camps - this is what it is for. To get the stage win is fantastic."

Froome, the winner of stage seven, added: "There is no tactics in something like today. This is by far the hardest event in cycling. You just have to go as fast as you can and turn yourself inside out to get the best time.

"It is good to know you are on track for a good time, but you have to be careful you do not overcook it so it is a fine line to gauge that effort.

"I am really happy with today and I went hard at it. That is all I can do. I know I haven't won so there are no big celebrations, but there will be for Bradley."

Fourt-time world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara had laid down the early marker but Froome eclipsed his time and Wiggins went even faster.

As race leader, Wiggins was last of the 178 riders to roll down the start ramp and he immediately began to take time out of his rivals.

At the first time check, after 16.5km, Wiggins clocked the fastest time of 21:05, which was 1:02 quicker than Evans.

Wiggins maintained his electric pace through the second time check, at 31.5km, reaching it in 39:02 and opening out his advantage on Evans to 1:19.

He did not relax in the final 10km of the race, and ended the day with a commanding overall lead.

Fellow British rider David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) was 36th in 55:38, with Steve Cummings (BMC Racing) 39th, nine seconds further adrift.

Wiggins' Team Sky team-mate Mark Cavendish, the world road race champion, was 6:27 behind with a time of 1:00.07.

Stage nine result:

1. Bradley Wiggins (Britain/Team Sky) 51:24"

2. Chris Froome (Britain/Team Sky) +35"

3. Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland/RadioShack) +57"

4. Tejay Van Garderen (United States/BMC Racing) +1:06"

5. Sylvain Chavanel (France/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) +1:24"

6. Cadel Evans (Australia/BMC Racing) +1:43"

7. Peter Velits (Slovakia/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) +1:59"

8. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy/Liquigas) +2:07"

9. Denis Menchov (Russia/Katusha) +2:08"

10. Andreas Kloeden (Germany/RadioShack) +2:09"

Overall standings:

1. Bradley Wiggins (Britain/Team Sky) 39:09:20"

2. Cadel Evans (Australia/BMC Racing) +1:53"

3. Chris Froome (Britain/Team Sky) +2:07"

4. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy/Liquigas) +2:23"

5. Denis Menchov (Russia/Katusha) +3:02"

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