Tour de France victory for Wiggins now a formality after sensational time trial win
16:55 GMT, 21 July 2012
Bradley Wiggins is set to become the first British winner of the Tour de France after an imperious victory in the stage 19 time-trial to Chartres.
In the 99th edition of the sport's most fabled race, the 32-year-old Londoner is poised to ride Sunday's 120-kilometre 20th stage from Rambouillet to the Champs-Elysees in Paris knowing he will return home victorious.
Triumphant roar: Bradley Wiggins celebrates after crossing the line
Top boys: Wiggins with his team-mate Christopher Froome
Wiggins, a three-time Olympic champion,
began the 53.5km time-trial from Bonneval to Chartres with an advantage
of two minutes five seconds over Team Sky colleague Chris Froome and
enhanced his hold on the maillot jaune with a scintillating display
against the clock to take a 3mins 21secs lead into the final day.
Wiggins completed the route in one hour four minutes 12 seconds.
Tour delight: Wiggins celebrates winning stage 19
Froome was 1min 16secs slower in 1.05:29 to place second on the stage and all but confirm second place overall, with the final stage effectively a procession to the finish on the Champs-Elysees.
Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) is set to complete the podium despite not being in contention on Saturday. The Italian finished in 1.07:51 to place 16th on the stage, 3:38 behind Wiggins, and fall 6:19 adrift overall.
Out in front: Bradley Wiggins on his way to victory in the time trial as he closes in on victory in the Tour de France
The margin of Wiggins' victory answered many of those who questioned why Froome, who appeared marginally stronger in the mountains, was not Team Sky's Tour leader.
Team Sky were launched in 2010 with the stated aim of winning the Tour with a clean British rider within five years – it is a target Dave Brailsford and his squad, through Wiggins, are set to achieve in three.
Froome is also on the verge of history – no Briton has finished on the Tour podium in 98 previous editions, with Wiggins' 2009 fourth place equalling Robert Millar's 1984 best. Now there are set to be two.
The last time two riders from the same nation finished first and second in the Tour was 1984, when Laurent Fignon finished ahead of Bernard Hinault.
Out in front: Wiggins will be the first Brit to win the Tour
Hinault's second place two years later behind Greg LeMond was the most recent time two team-mates held the top two positions in Paris.
Wiggins has been in stunning form this season, winning the Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine stage races, and has carried his form into the Tour, which featured more than 100km against the clock.
He was second in the Tour's prologue on July 30 in Liege and has remained in the top two of the general classification since, taking the maillot jaune on stage seven and winning stage nine and today's penultimate stage.
Wiggins, wearing the maillot jaune for a 12th day, was the last of 153-strong peloton to roll down the starting ramp to begin a route south-west of Paris where there was a large British presence, with Union Flags heavily in evidence.
Buddies: Wiggins' team-mate Froome in action
Luis-Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) began 88th and finished the route in 1.06:03 to be the early leader.
Wiggins was focused as he rolled down the start ramp into a familiar domain – against the clock – and assumed his time-trial position, a still upper body, legs pumping like pistons.
At the first time check, after 14km, Froome was fastest in 17:01, but Wiggins went 12 seconds quicker still.
Froome kept the pace up to lead at the second time check, after 30km, in 37:35, but again Wiggins was faster – this time by 54 seconds, in 36:41.
Froome and Wiggins maintained their remarkable pace in the final third of the route. Froome overhauled Sanchez to claim the fastest time but Wiggins, who began three minutes behind his team-mate, soon bettered it, leaving the Spaniard third on the stage.
Wiggins punched the air in delight as he crossed the line, knowing a lifelong goal is set to be achieved in 24 hours' time.
Let's go: Tour de France 2011 winner, Australia's Cadel Evans, gets his race underway
As well as being the display which all but secured the yellow jersey, Wiggins' was a performance which augured well for the Olympic time-trial on August 1, although some of his Hampton Court rivals were absent on Saturday.
Briton David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) completed the course in 1.10:35, Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) in 1.11:11 and Steve Cummings (BMC Racing) in 1.12:04.
Cavendish, who won stages two and 18, will be seeking to complete a stunning Tour for Britain on Sunday's processional stage, usually contested by the sprinters.
Decorations: A bell tower adorned with mock leaders' jerseys, while Peter Sagan (right) has the green one on
The 27-year-old Manxman has completed the Tour three times and won on the Champs-Elysees on each occasion – in 2009, 2010 and 2011 – and it is likely Wiggins will be seen leading out Cavendish on the French capital's most famous boulevard.
BRADLEY WIGGINS FACTFILE
1980 – Born March 28 in Ghent, Belgium before growing up in London. Son of Australian former racing cyclist Gary Wiggins.
1992 – Begins track cycling at Herne Hill Velodrome, London.
1997 – Wins individual pursuit gold at Junior World Track Championships in Cuba.
2000: March – Silver in team pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester.
October – Bronze in team pursuit at Olympic Games in Sydney.
2001: September – Silver in team pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium.
2002: July – Silver for England in team pursuit and individual pursuit at Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Gold in individual pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
2003: August – Silver in team pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
September – Wins opening stage of Tour de l'Avenir.
2004: August – Olympic gold in individual pursuit at Athens Olympics. Also wins silver in team pursuit alongside Steve Cummings, Paul Manning and Rob Hayles and bronze in Madison alongside Rob Hayles to become first Briton since 1964 to win
three medals at one Games.
2005: May – Wins stage eight of Tour de l'Avenir.
2006: July – Makes Tour de France debut, riding for French team Cofidis.
2007: March – Wins gold in the individual pursuit and team pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Palma, Majorca.
June – Prologue victory in Dauphine Libere.
July – Finishes fourth in Tour de France prologue in London behind Swiss winner Fabian Cancellara but his team, Cofidis, later withdraw after team-mate Cristian Moreni fails a drugs test.
September – Individual pursuit gold at Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester.
2008: January – Wiggins' estranged father, Gary Wiggins, is discovered unconscious in New South Wales and later dies.
March – Wins individual pursuit, team pursuit and Madison gold at Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester.
August 16 – Successfully defends Olympic individual pursuit title with gold at the Laoshan Velodrome.
August 18 – Olympic team pursuit gold alongside Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas and Paul Manning in a world record of three minutes 53.314 seconds.
August 19 – Favourite for Olympic Madison alongside Mark Cavendish but ninth-placed finish results in Manxman suffering the ignominy of being the only member of GB's track team to leave the Laoshan Velodrome without a medal and has a public falling-out with Wiggins.
October – Releases autobiography titled 'In Pursuit of Glory' detailing his struggle with alcohol after Athens Games.
2009: July – Secures fourth place in Tour de France, matching highest-ever placing by a British rider.
September – Wins British Time-Trial Championship.
October – Wins stage five time-trial and overall title at Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Australia.
December 10 – Signs four-year deal with Team Sky, the BSkyB-backed road team which is being led by British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford.
2010: February 7 – Makes Team Sky debut at Tour of Qatar, helping squad to victory in the race's opening team time-trial.
March – Finishes third overall in the Tour of Murcia.
May – Wins Giro d'Italia prologue to become second Briton to wear race leader's pink jersey, the maglia rosa. The victory gives Team Sky a Grand Tour stage win at the first attempt.
July – Finishes 24th on Team Sky's Tour de France debut.
2011: March – Finishes third overall in Paris-Nice stage race.
May – Wins fourth stage of Bayern-Rundfahrt as team-mate Geraint Thomas wins overall.
June – Wins traditional Tour de France warm-up Criterium du Dauphine. Wins British Championships road race.
July 8 – Abandons Tour de France after fracturing collarbone in crash on seventh stage. Wiggins was sixth overall, 10 seconds behind race leader Thor Hushovd, entering the stage.
September – Finishes third overall at the Vuelta a Espana, with Team Sky colleague Chris Froome second. Finishes second in World Championships time-trial before helping Cavendish win the road race.
2012: February: Wins stage five of Volta ao Algarve.
March – Wins Paris-Nice overall, completing victory with win on stage eight.
April – Triumphs in Tour de Romandie, winning stages one and five.
June – Successfully defends his Criterium du Dauphine title and wins stage four time-trial for an unprecedented series of results.
July 7 – Takes the Tour de France yellow jersey after stage seven.
July 21 – Wins the time-trial on the Tour's penultimate day to all but secure victory ahead of the final stage, effectively a procession.