x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Tour de France: Briton climbs to yellow jersey after Stage 7

Bradley Wiggins says it hasn't really sunk in yet that he is the overall leader at the Tour de France, but then adds that he believes the race is now down to himself, Cadel Evans and Vincenzo Nibali.

Christopher Froome took the Stage 7 win, finishing ahead of Cadel Evans of Australia, left, but Bradley Wiggin's third-place finish was enough to give him the yellow jersey of the overall leader.
Christopher Froome took the Stage 7 win, finishing ahead of Cadel Evans of Australia, left, but Bradley Wiggin's third-place finish was enough to give him the yellow jersey of the overall leader.

 

La Planche des Belles Filles, France // Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins fulfilled a lifelong dream at the Tour de France by taking the yellow jersey as Team Sky colleague Chris Froome capped a superlative performance from the British squad with victory on Stage 7.

In the first fireworks of the 99th Tour, Wiggins became the fifth Briton to don the maillot jaune and the first since 2000 after Team Sky set a blistering tempo up Les Planche des Belles Filles, the category one finishing ascent of the 199-kilometre route from Tomblaine.

Froome won the stage with a late burst after successfully stemming an attack from defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), who finished second, with Wiggins third and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) fourth.

The result saw Wiggins take the fabled yellow jersey, with Evans in second place, 10 seconds adrift, and Nibali third, 16 seconds behind.

"I've dreamt about this all year, but until you through the process and put it into action and do like we did today... it's an incredible feeling," triple Olympic champion Wiggins said. "It hasn't really sunk in yet. It sounds corny but it's something I've dreamt of since I was a child. I'd sit on the home trainer watching my hero, my Tour de France hero, Miguel Indurain.

"To be here, on the top of a mountain in the yellow jersey is phenomenal. This was the plan; it's what we've trained for all year."

Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) won the opening prologue in Liege last Saturday and began the day with an advantage of seven seconds over Wiggins, but crumbled and now lies one minute 43 seconds behind in 11th place.

Following Team Sky's punishing pace which decimated the field, the Swiss is one of just 11 riders within two minutes of Wiggins entering the 157.5km eighth stage from Belfort to Porrentruy, Switzerland, which features seven categorised climbs.

The overall contenders are set to be whittled down further in Monday's 41.5km time-trial to Besancon and the anticipated two-horse race between Wiggins and Evans appears set to continue for the remainder of the race.

"It's clear that the Tour is now down to three riders, Cadel and Nibali and me," Wiggins said.

After emulating Tom Simpson, Sean Yates, Chris Boardman and David Millar by wearing the maillot jaune, the goal now for Wiggins is to become the first Briton on the Tour podium in Paris come July 22 as the first British winner.

Wiggins, already wearing a yellow helmet with Team Sky leading the team classification, added: "We survived a very, very manic first week and here we are. I'm pleased that we're in yellow.

"We'll take it day by day now but you can't choose when you take the yellow jersey in the Tour de France.

"We've got it now and there's another tough day tomorrow but there shouldn't be too many problems.

"Then we've got the time trial and we'll try to consolidate in that.

"Then it's a rest day and we're halfway through the Tour and we'll defend it every day now.

"Cadel is hot on our heels so it's not something we're going to accidentally try and lose to him."

The three-week race takes riders on another bumpy ride on Sunday, with seven climbs in the 157.5-kilometer course from Belfort to Porrentruy.

With another hilly ride into Switzerland that Team Sky should control easily, and the first individual time trial Monday in which Wiggins expects to "consolidate the jersey", the Briton is following his game plan to perfection.

"Then it's the rest day and we're halfway into the Tour," he said.

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