Time trial puts Wiggins in Tour command

Mark Cavendish celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the bunch sprint during the twentieth and final stage.
Mark Cavendish celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the bunch sprint during the twentieth and final stage.
British fans celebrate with Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish masks.
British fans celebrate with Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish masks.
Bradley Wiggins is hoisted up by teammates as he celebrates his Tour de France victory.
Bradley Wiggins is hoisted up by teammates as he celebrates his Tour de France victory.
Tejay Van Garderen, white jersey winner, Bradley Wiggins, yellow jersey winner, Peter Sagan, green jersey winner, and Thomas Voeckler, polka dot jersey winner, complete a lap of honour.
Tejay Van Garderen, white jersey winner, Bradley Wiggins, yellow jersey winner, Peter Sagan, green jersey winner, and Thomas Voeckler, polka dot jersey winner, complete a lap of honour.
Bradley Wiggins on his way to victory in the stage 19 time trial.
Bradley Wiggins on his way to victory in the stage 19 time trial.
Mark Cavendish celebrates as he crosses the line to win stage 18.
Mark Cavendish celebrates as he crosses the line to win stage 18.
The time gap motorcycle passes through a field of sunflowers during stage 18.
The time gap motorcycle passes through a field of sunflowers during stage 18.
Young fans on horse back cheer on the peleton during stage 17.
Young fans on horse back cheer on the peleton during stage 17.
Greg Henderson is cheered on by a group of Kiwi fans as he pushes through the pain during stage 16.
Greg Henderson is cheered on by a group of Kiwi fans as he pushes through the pain during stage 16.
Tour leader Bradley Wiggins battles through the heat during stage 16.
Tour leader Bradley Wiggins battles through the heat during stage 16.
Australian defending champion Cadel Evans (far left) struggles on stage 16 despite the help of his BMC Racing Team.
Australian defending champion Cadel Evans (far left) struggles on stage 16 despite the help of his BMC Racing Team.
The peleton attacks a climb up Col d'Aubisque on the 16th stage of the Tour de France.
The peleton attacks a climb up Col d'Aubisque on the 16th stage of the Tour de France.
French rider Thomas Voeckler feels the heat on his way to winning stage 16 of the Tour de France.
French rider Thomas Voeckler feels the heat on his way to winning stage 16 of the Tour de France.
Riders, including Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins (2R), descend the Pyrenees during the 16th stage.
Riders, including Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins (2R), descend the Pyrenees during the 16th stage.
Tour leader Bradley Wiggins is flanked by SKY Procycling team-mates during the 15th stage.
Tour leader Bradley Wiggins is flanked by SKY Procycling team-mates during the 15th stage.
A pack of riders race through the village of Morlaas during the 15th stage.
A pack of riders race through the village of Morlaas during the 15th stage.
Supporters of Tour leader Bradley Wiggins wear masks as they cheer on the British rider.
Supporters of Tour leader Bradley Wiggins wear masks as they cheer on the British rider.
SKY Procycling team members, including tour leader Bradley Wiggins (C) ride through a sunflower field during the 15th stage.
SKY Procycling team members, including tour leader Bradley Wiggins (C) ride through a sunflower field during the 15th stage.
Luis-Leon Sanchez of Spain celebrates winning stage fourteen of the Tour de France from Limoux to Foix.
Luis-Leon Sanchez of Spain celebrates winning stage fourteen of the Tour de France from Limoux to Foix.
Race leader Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain retained his yellow jersey after stage fourteen of the Tour de France.
Race leader Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain retained his yellow jersey after stage fourteen of the Tour de France.
Cheerleaders encourage the breakaway during stage fourteen of the Tour de France from Limoux to Foix.
Cheerleaders encourage the breakaway during stage fourteen of the Tour de France from Limoux to Foix.
The pack of riders cycles past a woman on a horse during the 13th stage of the 99th Tour de France.
The pack of riders cycles past a woman on a horse during the 13th stage of the 99th Tour de France.
Andre Greipel (R) takes first place ahead of Peter Sagan in stage thirteen of the 2012 Tour de France.
Andre Greipel (R) takes first place ahead of Peter Sagan in stage thirteen of the 2012 Tour de France.
Race fans watch the start of stage thirteen of the 2012 Tour de France from Saint-Paul Trois Chateaux to Le Cap D'Agde.
Race fans watch the start of stage thirteen of the 2012 Tour de France from Saint-Paul Trois Chateaux to Le Cap D'Agde.
David Millar (right) of Great Britain out-sprints Jean-Christophe Peraud to win stage twelve of the 2012 Tour de France.
David Millar (right) of Great Britain out-sprints Jean-Christophe Peraud to win stage twelve of the 2012 Tour de France.
Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain in the race leader's yellow jersey leads the peloton over Le Rhone river during stage 12.
Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain in the race leader's yellow jersey leads the peloton over Le Rhone river during stage 12.
The lead group including stage winner David Millar of Great Britain make their way through the fans as they approach the summit of the Col du Granier in stage 12.
The lead group including stage winner David Millar of Great Britain make their way through the fans as they approach the summit of the Col du Granier in stage 12.
Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins (R) and Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali exchange pleasantries near the end of the mountainous 11th stage.
Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins (R) and Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali exchange pleasantries near the end of the mountainous 11th stage.
French rider Pierre Rolland is urged to victory on the mountainous 11th stage of the Tour de France.
French rider Pierre Rolland is urged to victory on the mountainous 11th stage of the Tour de France.
Fans in the Alps gather to cheer on riders on the 11th stage of the Tour de France.
Fans in the Alps gather to cheer on riders on the 11th stage of the Tour de France.
Defending champion Cadel Evans completes the 11th stage of the Tour de France, having conceded more time to overall leader Bradley Wiggins.
Defending champion Cadel Evans completes the 11th stage of the Tour de France, having conceded more time to overall leader Bradley Wiggins.
French rider Pierre Rolland stands atop the podium after winning the 11th stage.
French rider Pierre Rolland stands atop the podium after winning the 11th stage.
French rider Remy Di Gregorio faces the media outside a court in Marseille. He faces charges of being in possession of banned substances during the Tour de France.
French rider Remy Di Gregorio faces the media outside a court in Marseille. He faces charges of being in possession of banned substances during the Tour de France.
The bandaged hands and arms of Tyler Farrar of the USA as he prepares to start stage ten.
The bandaged hands and arms of Tyler Farrar of the USA as he prepares to start stage ten.
The peloton makes the climb of the Col du Grand Columbier during stage ten.
The peloton makes the climb of the Col du Grand Columbier during stage ten.
Peter Sagan and Andriy Grivko breakaway from the peloton early in stage ten from Macon to Bellegarde-Sur-Valserine.
Peter Sagan and Andriy Grivko breakaway from the peloton early in stage ten from Macon to Bellegarde-Sur-Valserine.
Thomas Voeckler of France descends the Col du Grand Columbier en route to winning stage ten.
Thomas Voeckler of France descends the Col du Grand Columbier en route to winning stage ten.
Bradley Wiggins gives the thumbs up after extending his overall lead in the Tour de France following the ninth stage individual time trial.
Bradley Wiggins gives the thumbs up after extending his overall lead in the Tour de France following the ninth stage individual time trial.
Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel is roared on by parochial supporters during the ninth stage time trial.
Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel is roared on by parochial supporters during the ninth stage time trial.
Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland powers across the French countryside.
Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland powers across the French countryside.
Tour leader Bradley Wiggins seeks space after the ninth stage time trial.
Tour leader Bradley Wiggins seeks space after the ninth stage time trial.
The peloton ride out of Belfort at the start of stage eight.
The peloton ride out of Belfort at the start of stage eight.
Jens Voigt of Germany riding for Radioshack-Nissan solos up the Cote du Passage de la Douleur to earn the king of the mountain points during stage eight.
Jens Voigt of Germany riding for Radioshack-Nissan solos up the Cote du Passage de la Douleur to earn the king of the mountain points during stage eight.
Liquigas-Cannondale leads the peloton during stage eight from Belfort, France to Porrentruy, Switzerland.
Liquigas-Cannondale leads the peloton during stage eight from Belfort, France to Porrentruy, Switzerland.
Bradley Wiggins celebrates retaining his yellow jersey after stage eight.
Bradley Wiggins celebrates retaining his yellow jersey after stage eight.
Fabian Cancellara, who relinquished the yellow jersey, struggle up a hill during stage seven.
Fabian Cancellara, who relinquished the yellow jersey, struggle up a hill during stage seven.
Christopher Froome takes a look back at Cadel Evans as the riders approach the finish of stage seven.
Christopher Froome takes a look back at Cadel Evans as the riders approach the finish of stage seven.
Christopher Froome of Great Britain celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win stage seven.
Christopher Froome of Great Britain celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win stage seven.
The peloton ride through the French Countryside during stage seven from Tomblaine to La Planche des Belles Filles.
The peloton ride through the French Countryside during stage seven from Tomblaine to La Planche des Belles Filles.
The peloton passes a cathedral during stage six from Epernay to Metz.
The peloton passes a cathedral during stage six from Epernay to Metz.
Equestrians watch the peloton pass during stage six.
Equestrians watch the peloton pass during stage six.
Stage six winner Peter Sagan celebrates with "the Hulk" as he crosses the finish line.
Stage six winner Peter Sagan celebrates with "the Hulk" as he crosses the finish line.
The silhouette of riders reflects in a puddle during the fifth stage.
The silhouette of riders reflects in a puddle during the fifth stage.
Lotto-Belisol rider Andre Greipel of Germany, teammate of New Zealand's Greg Henderson, celebrates the stage five victory.
Lotto-Belisol rider Andre Greipel of Germany, teammate of New Zealand's Greg Henderson, celebrates the stage five victory.
Garmin-Sharp rider Tyler Farrar receives treatment after a crash late in the stage.
Garmin-Sharp rider Tyler Farrar receives treatment after a crash late in the stage.
Riders cycle past spectators with horses during the fifth stage from Rouen to Saint-Quentin.
Riders cycle past spectators with horses during the fifth stage from Rouen to Saint-Quentin.
Australian Jonathan Cantwell lies on the footpath as a bystander looks on after a crash.
Australian Jonathan Cantwell lies on the footpath as a bystander looks on after a crash.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme signals the start of the fifth stage in Rouen.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme signals the start of the fifth stage in Rouen.
The peloton rides during the fourth stage of the Tour de France between Abbeville and Rouen.
The peloton rides during the fourth stage of the Tour de France between Abbeville and Rouen.
Lotto-Belisol team rider Andre Greipel of Germany sprints on the finish as teammate Greg Henderson celebrates.
Lotto-Belisol team rider Andre Greipel of Germany sprints on the finish as teammate Greg Henderson celebrates.
The pack of riders cycles in the city of Dieppe during the fourth stage.
The pack of riders cycles in the city of Dieppe during the fourth stage.
Team Sky rider Mark Cavendish of Britain sits on the ground after a fall during the fourth stage of the 2012 Tour de France.
Team Sky rider Mark Cavendish of Britain sits on the ground after a fall during the fourth stage of the 2012 Tour de France.
The pack rides through the city of Abbeville during stage four.
The pack rides through the city of Abbeville during stage four.
Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Liquigas-Cannondale celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win stage three.
Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Liquigas-Cannondale celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win stage three.
The peleton ride through the French countryside during stage three.
The peleton ride through the French countryside during stage three.
Philippe Gilbert of Belgium and the BMC Racing team signs an autograph at the start of stage three.
Philippe Gilbert of Belgium and the BMC Racing team signs an autograph at the start of stage three.
The peloton passes through a wheat field during stage two.
The peloton passes through a wheat field during stage two.
BMC Racing (in red) drives the peloton during stage two.
BMC Racing (in red) drives the peloton during stage two.
Sky Procycling rider Mark Cavendish of Britain celebrates winning the second stage of the Tour de France.
Sky Procycling rider Mark Cavendish of Britain celebrates winning the second stage of the Tour de France.
Fabian Cancellara, Bernard Hinault and King Albert of Belgium attend Tour de France second stage.
Fabian Cancellara, Bernard Hinault and King Albert of Belgium attend Tour de France second stage.
The pack of riders cycles past the citadel of Namur during the second stage of the Tour de France.
The pack of riders cycles past the citadel of Namur during the second stage of the Tour de France.
Radioshack-Nissan rider Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland wears the leader's yellow jersey on the podium after the second stage of the Tour de France.
Radioshack-Nissan rider Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland wears the leader's yellow jersey on the podium after the second stage of the Tour de France.
RadioShack-Nissan rider and leader's yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara waits with the pack of riders for the start of the first stage of the Tour de France.
RadioShack-Nissan rider and leader's yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara waits with the pack of riders for the start of the first stage of the Tour de France.
Defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia riding for BMC Racing races to 13th place in the prologue of the 2012 Tour de France.
Defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia riding for BMC Racing races to 13th place in the prologue of the 2012 Tour de France.
Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain in action during the Tour de France Prologue at Parc d'Avroy.
Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain in action during the Tour de France Prologue at Parc d'Avroy.

Bradley Wiggins rode "probably my best ever time trial" in the ninth stage of the Tour de France but said it was too early to consider the race as won.

On the 41.5-kms course from Arc et Senans, the Briton outclassed the Tour peloton with a time of 51 minutes and 24 seconds to take a potentially decisive lead over the other favourites.

He leads second-placed defending champion Cadel Evans by 1:53 before Tuesday's rest day.

DECISIVE MOVE: British rider Bradley Wiggins extended his Tour de France lead with a powerful time trial performance on stage nine.
DECISIVE MOVE: British rider Bradley Wiggins extended his Tour de France lead with a powerful time trial performance on stage nine.

It was Wiggins' maiden Tour stage victory and came two days after he seized his first yellow jersey.

The near perfect day for Team Sky was crowned by a remarkable one-two as Chris Froome finished 35 seconds behind his compatriot.

Olympic champion and prologue winner Fabian Cancellara had to be content with the last podium spot, 57 seconds off the pace.

"I didn't set out to win the stage. I thought a guy like Fabian would probably win it. It was all about the general classification and take time on the likes of Cadel or (Vincenzo) Nibali. To win the stage as well is like Christmas," Wiggins told reporters.

"I've been saying since the start of the season that it was all about peaking for July. I was physically at my best out there. So yes, that was probably my best ever time trial."

Evans was the hardest hit by Team Sky's show of strength.

The Australian lost 1:43 on Wiggins and the 1:53 overall is a huge gap in terms of time and a heavy blow in terms of morale.

"It was what it is. It was not my best time trial. I'm not going to give up. But we've got to be realistic," he said.

BUMPY ROADS

Ironically, Wiggins was far less fatalistic and warned against any premature celebrations. Asked whether he had already won the Tour, he said: "No, it's never over until the fat lady sings.

"It's just another day and there's a long way to go. It's a fantastic position to be in at this stage but I'm a human, not a machine and there's always the possibility of a bad day or a crash. Cadel is not going to give up before we get to Paris."

Third at the start of the day, Nibali - by no means a time trial specialist - limited the damage on the winding and bumpy roads to find himself 2:23 adrift overall.

But it was not good enough for the Italian to remain on the Tour podium as he was ousted from the top three by Froome.

Already the winner of the first mountain stage at La Planche des Belles Filles on Saturday, the Kenyan-born Froome again showed all-round qualities almost matching those of Wiggins.

To many, he now looks the only rider really on a par with Wiggins, a situation the two British team mates already faced in last year's Spanish Vuelta, when Froome finished second ahead of his leader on paper.

"We'll see where we go from here. I don't think we had a plan to have two riders in the first three at this stage," Wiggins said.

"It's more for bosses Dave (Brailsford) or Sean (Yates) to assess whether we need to sacrifice someone or if we finish with two on the podium."

The 178 riders left in the bunch will enjoy their first rest day on Tuesday before the peloton moves to the Alps.

Reuters