Bradley Wiggins achieved: victory in the Tour de France. The parade to Paris is all that's yet to come in Le Tour 2012.
The 53km 19th stage of the Tour de France - a time trial from Bonneval to Chartres - began at midday with the 'Lanterne Rouge', Jimmy Engouvlent (SAU), the first to start. The first 44 riders were separated by one-minute intervals, then it was two minutes between starters until the final 14 who had three minutes between each other. The sun was shining and a light breeze was blowing in the stage that was contested entirely in the Eure-et-Loir department. Gretsch sets the early standard The 10th rider to start the time trial set the best time at all three intermediate checks (at 14km, 30.5km and 48km) and established the time to beat in Chartres, covering the 53km course in 1h06'41". It wasn't under the arrival of Luis Sanchez (RAB) that the German's time was beaten. The Spanish TT champion caught his two-minute man before the 14km mark and beat Gretsch by 3" at all intermediate checks (by 3" at 14km, 16" at 30.5km, and 31" at 48km). Sanchez covered the 53km course at an average speed of 48.6km/h. Van Garderen shines, Evans fades The defending champion of the Tour offered one of the big surprises of the day; Evans (BMC) reached the 14km mark 1'10" behind Sanchez (55th best at the time). Meanwhile, the rider who started three minutes behind him - Tejay van Garderen (BMC) - was the fastest, beating Sanchez by 3" at the first check. But Froome took 23" off the time of the American but Wiggins, once again, was the fastest clocking 16'49" for the opening 14km. Evans' collapse was confirmed when van Garderen caught him with 20km to go in the stage; by then, the leader of the BMC team was over three minutes behind the time set by Sanchez. Wiggins: an emphatic second stage win! As impressive as Sanchez's return to top form has been, the Spaniard who limped through the first week of the Tour in 2012 because of a crash in stage one, was beaten by the final two starters in the time trial to Chartres.
Froome beat Sanchez at every time check but then came the yellow jersey who was in a class of his own, being the only rider to finish the stage at over 50km/h. He was 12" ahead of Froome at 14km, 54" ahead at 30.5km, 1'15" ahead with 5km to go and then saluted his second stage victory as he crossed the line 1'16" ahead of Froome and 1'50" ahead of Sanchez. Evans finished the stage in 52nd place 5'54" behind the rider who will wear the yellow jersey for the final stage tomorrow.
The changing of the guard is complete and this battle has been won by Britain.