Bradley Wiggins leads fellow Team Sky rider Chris Froome in a British 1-2 atop the Tour de France standings after defending champion Cadel Evans fell back to fourth place on stage 11.
Evans, who last year became the first Australian to win cycling’s premier event, wilted on the final climb yesterday to slip behind Froome and Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas. Pierre Rolland won yesterday’s 92-mile stage in the Alps.
“It was another great day for the team,” Wiggins said in comments on the Team Sky website. “It’s another one ticked off and we’ve actually taken more time off Cadel which we never expected.”
Wiggins leads Froome by 2 minutes, 5 seconds through 11 of 20 stages. A Briton has never won the 109-year-old event, which continues today with a 140.5-mile ride between Saint-Jean-de- Maurienne and Annonay-Davezieux. It’s the longest stage of this year’s race.
Nibali is 18 seconds further back in third. Evans is 3:19 behind Wiggins.
Rolland broke free of a leading group of four with about six miles to go yesterday. The Frenchman celebrated his stage win, the second in a row for his Europcar team, on the La Toussuire mountain pass by lifting his bike above his head.
Evans had attacked with 40 miles left, on the out-of- category Col de la Croix de Fer, taking the wheel of BMC Racing teammate Tejay van Garderen. Wiggins, helped by three teammates, quickly closed him down.
Italy’s Nibali, the 2010 Vuelta a Espana winner, twice attacked on the final 11-mile climb, building a 30-second lead over Froome and Wiggins.
The British duo fought back, leaving Evans behind with three miles to go. Froome attacked with 2 1/2 miles left, dropping Wiggins. Froome appeared to be told to slow down by Team Sky via radio, allowing Wiggins to recover.
Froome eventually crossed the line a few meters in front of Wiggins, who finished with the same time as Nibali.
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