Bradley Wiggins, the Tour de France leader, and other riders get a day off today as they prepare for a final slog to the finish line. The Briton says he’s well placed for victory.
The 32-year-old stayed two minutes, five seconds ahead of Team Sky teammate Chris Froome after yesterday’s 15th stage, a 98.5-mile ride to Pau in southwest France. Pierrick Fedrigo of FDJ-BigMat won the stage.
Wiggins, who has worn the race-leading yellow jersey for a British-record eight days, is seeking to become the first rider from that country to win the 109-year-old Tour. The last two mountain stages in the Pyrenees follow the rest day, and the race ends July 22 in Paris.
“It’s not over but we’re in a very good position,” Wiggins told France Television. He said he didn’t expect Froome to challenge him for the race win in the remaining stages. “Froome is my teammate,” he said.
Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas is 18 seconds behind Froome, while BMC Racing’s defending champion Cadel Evans is 3:19 behind the race leader.
Wiggins, a three-time Olympic track gold medalist, is rated the 1-7 favorite to win the Tour by bookmaker Ladbrokes Plc. That means a successful bet of 7 pounds would return one pound plus the stake.
Team Sky, which rode at the front of the peloton, seemed content to let the breakaway pull ahead in bright sunshine yesterday. The main pack finished almost 12 minutes behind Fedrigo.
“A lot of people are tired, mentally more than physically. It was hard because it was hot,” said Wiggins, who changed his bike early in the stage because of a mechanical problem.
Fedrigo and the U.S.’s Christian Vande Velde of Garmin- Sharp went ahead of the other four members of the lead group and the Frenchman prevailed. Thomas Voeckler of Europcar finished 12 seconds behind in third.
A court in the town of Foix opened an inquiry after nails and tacks were thrown onto the course two days ago, causing about 60 tire punctures, Thomas Cariou, a spokesman for race organizer Amaury Sport Organisation, said by phone. It’s not clear who was behind the sabotage.
Evans had to stop three times in 10 minutes during the July 15 stage because of punctures. Abiding by race etiquette, Wiggins, Nibali and other yellow-jersey contenders slowed to wait for the Australian to catch up. Team cars and ASO’s support vehicles were among those affected.
The biggest loser was Croatia’s Robert Kiserlovski of Astana who broke his collarbone in a crash caused by a flat tire, and withdrew from the Tour, according to race website letour.fr.
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