The UK's Bradley Wiggins took the yellow jersey Saturday after the seventh stage of the Tour de France. Wiggins now leads defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia by 10 seconds.
AP - Bradley Wiggins of Britain took the overall lead of the Tour de France on Saturday after the seventh stage, which was won by countryman Christopher Froome in the race’s first summit finish this year.
Wiggins received the leader’s yellow jersey from Fabian Canceralla following the 199-kilometer trek from Tomblaine up to the Vosges mountains ski station of La Planche des Belles Filles. The Swiss time-trial specialist had led since winning the opening prologue a week ago.
Wiggins, who began the day seven seconds behind Cancellara in second place, now leads defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia by 10 seconds. Vincenzo Nibali of Italy is also 10 seconds off the pace in third.
“It’s a great day for the team, we won the stage and took the yellow jersey,” Wiggins said. “This is my first time in the yellow jersey. It’s incredible - it’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid.”
Froome led a Team Sky phalanx that powered up the final climb. With most rivals falling away, the Kenyan-born cyclist burst ahead to finish two seconds ahead of BMC leader Evans and Sky leader Wiggins, who is bidding to become the first Briton to win the Tour.
Cancellara trailed nearly 2 minutes back.
The stage marked the first of three summit finishes in the race this year.
Lighter, nimbler mountain specialists seized the limelight after a first week dominated by sprinters across the flatter regions of Belgium - where the race began June 30 - and northern France.
The final ascent, at 5.9 kilometers, was relatively short as far as the Tour’s biggest climbs go. But it was steep, with a grueling 14-percent gradient in the last 500 meters.
Seven riders broke away from the pack after 15 kilometers and held the lead until the start of the final climb. Wiggins’ Team Sky then pressed the peloton’s pace before overtaking.
Giro d’Italia champion Ryder Hesjedal of Canada pulled out before the start of the stage after being injured in a multi-rider crash Friday.
Date created : 2012-07-07