- Tour de France, Stage 11
Wiggins survives scare to defend lead
Bradley Wiggins fended off a stern test from a number of rivals, and a shock charge from his team-mate Chris Froome, to defend his position as race leader of the Tour de France, as Pierre Rolland claimed a second stage win for Europcar.
The riders set out on a relatively short but punishing stage from Albertville to La Toussuire-Les Sybelles and on the fearsome Col de la Croix de Fer, defending champion Cadel Evans went on the attack. The Australian put in a huge dig and opened up a sizeable gap relatively quickly.
Wiggins looked in trouble as his team-mate Michael Rodgers set the pace in pursuit. But just as it looked as if the leader might crack, it was Evans who faltered as his domestique Tejay van Garderen dropped him before easing off and waiting.
This news was clearly relayed to Sky who steeled themselves for a final push and they pulled in Evans five kilometres from the summit of the Croix de Fer.
The Sky train set the tempo to the foot of the Toussuire, but they were attacked by first Jurgen van den Broeck, who started the day 4:48 down on Wiggins, and second Vincenzo Nibali.
Froome set a massive tempo for Wiggins in pursuit of Van den Broeck and Nibali and it jettisoned Evans. Froome dragged his leader up to the break and then amazingly shot off the front. His dig dropped Wiggins and the other riders, but a seemingly frantic call over the team radio saw Froome knock off the charge.
The dig from Froome appeared to prove that he has the stronger legs than Wiggins in the mountains, but he elected to wait for his team leader.
Froome paced Wiggins up to the finish, with Van den Broeck and Nibali in tow, 55 seconds behind Rolland who produced a fine solo climb to take the stage - having won on Alpe d'Huez last year.
Evans came in well behind the Wiggins group and he surrendered second place on GC to Froome.
Stage 11 result
1 Pierre Rolland (FRA) Europcar - 04:43:54
2 Thibaut Pinot (FRA) FDJ-Big Mat - 0:55
3 Chris Froome (GBR) Sky Procycling - 0:55
4 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (BEL) Lotto Belisol - 0:57
5 Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) - Liquigas-Cannondale 0:57
6 Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Sky Procycling - 0:57
7 Chris Anker Sorensen (DEN) Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank - 01:08
8 Janez Brajkovic (SLO) Astana - 01:58
9 Vasili Kiyienka (BLR) Movistar - 02:13
10 Frank Schleck (LUX) RadioShack-Nissan - 02:23
11 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC Racing Team - 02:23
1 Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Sky Procycling - 48:43:53
2 Christopher Froome (GBR) Sky Procycling - 0:02:05
3 Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Liquigas-Cannondale - 0:02:23
4 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC Racing Team - 0:03:19
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (BEL) Lotto Belisol Team - 0:04:48
6 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (ESP) RadioShack-Nissan - 0:06:15
7 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing - 0:06:57
8 Janez Brajkovic (SLO) Astana - 0:07:30
9 Pierre Rolland (FRA) Europcar - 0:08:31
10 Thibaut Pinot (FRA) FDJ-Big Mat 0:08:51