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Bradley Wiggins (Sky) limited his losses on the Mur-de-Bretagne.
British National champion loses time, but says it won't mean much
"It's still early days yet and these stages are all about not giving anything away but the real stuff is still to come," said the Brit following the 172 kilometre stage.
While there was heart-stopping action at the finish line with mere centimetres separating Wiggins' GC rivals Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) and Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard), the British National Road Champion led home the second group of 31 riders to cross the tape in 11th position. Wiggins lost six seconds to be 10 seconds back, but moved up four spots to sixth on GC – the best of the Sky men, with fast men Geraint Thomas and Edvald Boasson Hagen at 12 seconds, also in the top 10.
All in all, Wiggins was satisfied with his performance where he, like stage winner Evans, had fought his way back to the main bunch after a mechanical.
"It's probably not much of a climb if you do it in training but the way the stage was, with the wet, the wind and a nervy peloton, that was pretty tough at the end of 170k.
"I just conceded a few seconds at the top there but gained a lot on other people and at the end of three weeks it's not going to mean much. It was a tricky finish and it's a question of making sure you stay out of trouble again, staying upright and getting it all out so I'm pretty happy."
Equally content with the situation his team find themselves in was Sports Director Sean Yates who said: "It was an exciting finish and it's good we've still got the three guys in the top 10 on the GC. Everything is very much on track and we're in the right place but it's a long waiting game in many ways, especially for Brad.
"We knew it was going to be hard on that final climb today and so it proved. Those sort of finishes don't particularly suit Brad but he only lost six seconds to the front group so it was a great result and the team worked well."
Talking through the final drag up the Mûr-de-Bretagne, Yates added: "The plan was to make sure Brad was in the right place at the bottom of the climb and then it was always going to be a bit of a free-for-all after that.
"So it proved and plenty of guys attacked on that final climb - and Rigo [Uran] was one of those who was able to fire which was good to see."
Colombian Uran was best-placed of the Sky men, finishing fourth on the stage.