Britain's Bradley Wiggins moved up in the general classification of the Tour de France by two places from sixth to fourth after finishing sixth in the Tour's 40.5 kilometre time trial in Annecy, France, on Thursday. The result leaves Wiggins 11 seconds behind Lance Armstrong (Astana) and two ahead of Andreas Kloden (Astana).
Garmin-Slipstream's Wiggins had the second fastest split times at the 18- and 28.5-kilometre check points, but he struggled in the final parts of the stage with a strong headwind and cramp to finish 43 seconds behind stage winner and race leader Alberto Contador (Astana).
At the finish Jonathan Vaughters, Wiggins' director sportif, said that his rider had paced himself well and could still make the podium in Paris. "Bradley paced it well and hit the hill really hard. I think there might have been a weather change and a headwind on the way in. It was an all or nothing performance for him and he was going for the win," he said.
Vaughters also revealed that Wiggins wasn't given any time checks during the time trial and that Saturday's stage, which will finish at the top of Mont Ventoux, will be crucial in deciding the battle for podium places.
"It's not going to be as hard for him as the stages in the Alps. Brad is an athlete who is going to be better at one effort rather than multiple efforts, but to what degree, I don't know."
As for race tactics, Vaughters wouldn't be drawn on whether his Garmin team would plan any surprises. The team's Christian Vande Velde, who will likely be available to support Wiggins, is neatly placed in eighth overall. "Tactics on the Ventoux will be minimal. You've either got it or you don't. Of course you need to be well positioned at the bottom but he's either going to have it or he's not. If he's got the legs he'll move into third. I was worried after yesterday when he went through a bit of a rough patch but he's recovered fine. He’s a robust rider."
So far in the Tour, Wiggins has made several comments on Twitter regarding his relationship with the press leading some to question whether the pressure of the Tour de France has affected him.
"He's dealing with the pressure really well. Here's a guy who goes to the Olympics and is the absolute dead favourite and if he does anything other than first it's a complete disappointment. That's pressure. So you come here and maybe the pressure is more prolonged but he seems psychologically equipped."