July 9, 2012 - World time trial champions Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara were left way off the pace Monday as Team Sky scored another impressive result on the Tour de France. In the first of two long time trials race leader Bradley Wiggins tightened his grip on the yellow jersey by claiming a maiden stage victory that left defending champion Cadel Evans in second overall at 1min 53sec.
Wiggins, a three-time Olympic track pursuit champion, clocked a winning time of 51min 24sec for the rolling and slightly technical 41.5 km course between Arc-et-Senans and Besancon. The icing on the cake for Sky was Chris Froome's second place at 35sec, two days after the Kenyan-born Briton claimed his maiden stage at the first hilltop finish at La Planche des Belles Filles.
Martin, the reigning world champion from Germany, set the early pace but by the end his time of 53:40 was over two minutes slower than Wiggins. The Omega-Pharma rider, who is hoping to challenge for Olympic gold in London later this month, did not expect to win. He has been racing with a broken scaphoid in his wrist since a crash early last week and lost time due to a puncture near the start.
"I felt not too bad, but I had a flat tire after about 4-5 kilometers, so I really lost my rhythm after that," said the German. "But I know it wasn't a good time for me. I suffered, but my hand was only really sore when I went over a hole in the road."
Cancellara eventually took over as provisional leader but first Froome then Wiggins pushed him down a place each to third. The RadioShack rider, who won the prologue on June 30 and wore the yellow jersey until handing it to Wiggins on Saturday, said the demands of Sunday's hilly eighth stage in the Swiss Jura did not do him any favors.
"Yesterday was a really hard stage," said Cancellara, another favorite for Olympic gold in London. "Today I was totally focused and gave it everything I had. I'm happy because it was a difficult course for me, a typical Tour de France time trial."