Britain’s Chris Froome won his first Tour de France stage this afternoon, simultaneously thrusting himself into the polka dot jersey and Bradley Wiggins into the yellow jersey.
Today’s 199kilometre stage from Tomblaine to La Planche des Belles Filles saw the race enter the mountains for the first time. A gruelling first-category climb into a hilltop finish shook up the overall standings to bring Team Sky out on top.
Wiggins is only the fifth British rider ever to wear the yellow jersey. “It’s been a childhood dream of mine and here I am now,” he said after the race. “I promised my son yesterday I would take the yellow jersey today.”
Kenyan-born Froome gave his fellow Team Sky rider the strongest of lead-outs, only to speed away in the closing metres and take a shock win for himself.
Wiggins lacked the power to get ahead of 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans. But he stuck diligently to the Australian’s wheel, finishing in third place and retaining his 10second overall lead.
Today marked Wiggins’ first real showdown between with Evans. “You can never underestimate him,” the Briton said.
“He’s an incredible champion and he fought every step to the line. He’s not going to give up this Tour, that’s for sure. This is one day of many to come.”
Team Sky asserted their dominance by setting a ferocious pace on the final climb, whittling down the peloton to a core of just five riders.
Evans, left “isolated” without any support from his BMC team, rose from his saddle to take the lead at the final corner. Wiggins coolly kept him in check but seemed unable to attack himself. It was only then that Froome took off to claim an unexpected victory.
Team Sky’s effort saw Wiggins take gain time on many top contenders. Most notably, Frank Schleck slipped off the back of the pack and now sits 3minutes 43seconds down in the overall standings.