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Tour de France 2012: Stage 9


The first major time trial of the Tour -- will our race leader dominate, as expected?

Things continue today with a time trial -- 41.5km for the riders to cover. Who will be the best today?

World Champion Tony Martin is currently our leader. He covered the course in 53:40, which is nearly half a minute faster than Lieuwe Westra of Vacansoleil, who is in second place.

Riders are taking to the start in reverse order of the GC. There is a two minute gap for the first 182 riders, and thereafter a three minute gap. 

You can check out all the start times here.

Check out @cyclingthealps preview of stage 9 from Arc-et-Senans to Besancon . Explore the route on a Google Map, with a Google Earth Tour or cycle it virtually! Click here.

As you can see, there is so far a fairly clear pattern as to who his strongest. Martin set the best times all along the way. Not bad considering he has a broken bone in his hand!

Here is the CN preview of today's stage, complete with Chris Boardman video.

Mick Rogers has won a few World time trial titles himself, and yesterday he told our Pete Cossins, "We’ll go full bore in the time trial that’s for sure. If we can move up a couple of positions overall leading into the stages after the rest day then it’s all the better for us. It gives us a few more cards to play. We’ll go as fast as we can and see where it takes us."

Jeremy Roy has put on a big show today, as well.  He set good times all along the way and is currently third at the end, only 36 seconds slower than Martin.

80 riders have crossed the finish line so far, and the slowest has been Anders Lund of Saxo Bank-Tinkof Bank, at 1:00:56, more than seven minutes slower than Tony Martin.

Looks like "oldie" Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan) is determined to make his mark! He is only nine seconds down at the first time check.

Here is what Greg Henderson (Lotto Belisol) tweeted about today's time trial: “I remember a couple years ago I had a crazy idea of riding national 40k TT champs. Watch me go 10mins slower today and 100w less. Hahaha.”

Peter Velits tweeted: “Very interesting TT course. It won't be boring today.

Voigt is also second at the second time check, now 14 seconds back.

As of now the riders will go off at three minute intervals.

And Richie Porte had this to tweet: “After a day like yesterday I'm looking forward to a bit of a cruisy TT today. Will be a great gc battle #allezwiggo”

There are 11 national time trial champions here today: Gustav Erik Larsson of Sweden; Luis Leon Sanchez, Spain; Lieuwe Westra (Netherlands), David Zabriskie (USA); Tony Martin (Germany), Phiilppe Gilbert (Belgium); Andriy Grivko (Ukraine), Fabian Cancellara (Swizterland), Sylvain Chavanel (France); Peter Velits (Slovakia) and Denis Menchov (Russia

We have had a number of changes in the various rankings over the last few stages, so let's take a look at them all.

In GC, Bradley Wiggins now leads Cadel Evans and Vincenzo Nibali.

1     Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling     38:17:56      
2     Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team     0:00:10      
3     Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale     0:00:16      
4     Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team     0:00:54      
5     Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan     0:00:59      
6     Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling     0:01:32      
7     Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan     0:02:08      
8     Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team     0:02:11      
9     Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale     0:02:21      
10     Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne     0:02:27

Voigt cruises into second place at the finish! He crosses it in a time of 54:08, which is 28 seconds slower than Martin, and one second faster than Westra.

Peter Sagan of Liquigas continues to lead the points classification.

Alexandre Vinokourov of Astana is the next to go. This is his last Tour, he has said. After seeing his horrible crash in last year's Tour, who would have expected to see him here again?

Astana's Fredrik Kessiakoff is the new King of the Mountains.

1     Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana Pro Team     21      pts
2     Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling     20      
3     Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team     18      
4     Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat     16      
5     Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling     12    

Another popular rider is about to take off: Thomas Voeckler of Europcar. This race has not yet gone the way he would have liked, due to knee problems.

A good ride for Belgian national champion Philippe Gilbert, who is now eigthth at the finish.

With his fine performance Sunday, Rein Taaramae of Cofidis moved into the lead in the best young rider rankings.

1     Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne     38:20:23      
2     Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack-Nissan     0:00:46      
3     Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat     0:01:14      
4     Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team     0:01:41      
5     Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi     0:03:38

Tony Martin put in his ride today without a brace or splint on his hand. And he said it was not easy.

Not only that, he punctured only 5km away! Which all just goes to show what a great TTer he is.

This course seems to be more difficult than one might thing. There are three climbs along the way, not ranked one, but not easy either. Manuel Quinziato of BMC called it "technically very challenging".

Sky has finally been bumped down in the teams ranking, with RadioShack-Nissan now the top cats.

1     RadioShack-Nissan     114:56:52      
2     Sky Procycling     0:02:51      
3     Liquigas-Cannondale     0:10:06      
4     Katusha Team     0:10:40      
5     Omega Pharma-Quickstep     0:13:07    

Vino grinds his way up one of the climbs, which is literally lined with fans. There is a great turnout this year.

Bradley Wiggins had a few words to say about his critics, most of which we can't repeat here.

Voeckler is 16th at the first time check.

Who would have thought that Fränk Schleck and Andreas Klöden would both have already been dropped as RadioShack-Nissan captains?  The team is now looking to Haimar Zubeldia and Maxime Monfort.

Yesterday's stage winner, young Thibault Pinot climbs on his bike to warm up. He has a large admiring throng of fans watching him.

Peter Sagan of Liquigas has just taken to the course. And hasn't he had an incredible Tour so far!

Fredrik Kessiakoff was happy to put on polka dots after his long hard ride on Sunday, and he hopes to keep the jersey until the end of the race.

Robert Gesink of Rabobank finishes the stage 2:59 slower than Tony Martin.

Former world champion Fabian Cancellara is now on the road. Will he take this time trial, too?

Eighth place at the moment for Vinokourov.

RadioShack is now leading the teams ranking, but they are not wearing the yelllow helmets. That probably wouldn't have been too practical in a time trial. But they do have yellow numbers.

Vinokourov, interviewed on Eurosport, says he thinks Evans will win today.

Voeckler finishes the day 3:06 down on leader Tony Martin.

Vincenzo Nibali would like to win this Tour, but of course he is not the only one. He knows he has a tough battle ahead of him.

Sandy Casar puts in a new second-best time at the first time check.

George HIncapie of BMC finishes the day in just over 56 minutes.

Cancellara is looking very smooth and powerful.

A very good time for Laurens Ten Dam of Rabobank, who is 15th at the finish.

The many fans are not only lining the road, they are on the road. So far all is going well, but we have all too often seen what can happen when the fans don't clear the road.

Cancellara is approaching the first time check. Let's see how he does - or shall we say, by how much he will set a new best time?

21:37 is his time, more than 38 seconds faster than Martin.

Kesiakoff comes into the finish now. The King of the Mountains puts in a good time as well.

One of the Velits twins is on the road now. This one is Peter.

The only question is this point is how Wiggins and Evans will do against Cancellara. We wouldn't want to count either of them out.

Is Cancellara fast? Well, he has just caught and passed his three minute man, Bauke Mollema of Rabobank.

Peraud and an Astana rider come in pretty much togehter. Peraud of AG2R is currently eighth.

Casar has now passed Sagan. Well, this is one stage the young Liquigas rider won't win.

The fans along (and in) the road are going crazy for their national champion Chavanel.

Cancellara has also put in a new best time at the second time check, over a minute faster than Martin.

Sandy Casar comes to the finish line. He has a time of 54:33, which makes him currently eighth.

Peter Sagan has finished, over four minutes back.

Not much further for Cancellara, who will absolutely blast Martin's time.

And the Swiss rider indeed does it, crossing tHE finish line with a time of 52:21!

Chavanel is the next best bet to put in a top time. Not that we think he will beat Canceallara, though.

Levi Leipheimer of OPQS is now underway. He has had a tough year.

Andreas Klöden is also on the road, and now Tejay Van Garderen takes off.

If you want to see again what happened in yesterday's stage, you can take a look here at the video highlights.

The next rider to go is Fränk Schleck.

And speaking of Schlecks, his brother Andy has had some bad news. His fracture is healing very slowly, and he miss not only the Olympics but also the rest of this season.

Tony Martin has now fallen out of the top five at the first time check, by the way. Peter Velits, Jerome Coppel and Mick Rogers have all topped his time.

Chavanel has lost a bit of time. He is 26 seconds down at the second time check, whereas he was only 7 seconds down at the first one.

Pinot takes to the course. He can expect extra cheers and support in thanks for bringing in the first French win yesterday.

Froome and Wiggins are now warming up.

Chavanel zips right past Katusha's Eduard Vorganov.

Klöden is at the first time check, and he puts in the fourth best time, 28 seconds slower than Cancellara.

Chavanel is now in second place. His time was 52.48, and he is 27.73 seconds behind Cancellara.

Tony Gallopin has started. That leaves us with only 10 more riders to go.

Rein Taarame put in a strong effort yesterday to gain the young rider's jersey, and he is determined to hang on to it.

Now here's a surprise -- Tejay Van Garderen has just topped Cancellara's best time at the first time check, by more than three seconds.

Peter Velits of OPQS knocks teammate Martin off the day's podium, moving into third place. Their teammate Chavanel is second, so the Belgian team is currnently second,third and fourth.

Nicolas Roche has been underway for three minutes, and now Lotto Beilsol's Jurgen Van Den Broeck is on the road as well.

Mick Rogers finishes outside the top ten.

Schleck 24th at the first time check.

Wiggins alone now warming up.

His Sky teammate Froome is now on the start ramp. And he is off!

Five more riders to go: Zubeldia, Menchov, Nibali, Evans and Wiggins.

Coppel reaches the finish line and is currently eighth.

Zubeldia has gone, and now we see Denis Menchov. He is all in white, as the Russian national champion.

Gallopin is seventh at the first time check. And Van GArderen has passed Ivan Basso.

Wiggins now rolling his way to the start, as third-placed Nibali takes off.

Leiphimer comes in as 17th at the finish.

Cadel Evans is 10 seconds behind race leader Bradley Wiggins, but BMC team leader Jim Ochowicz is confident that the Australian will do well in today's time trial.

And there is the Australian, ready for the first major time trial test.

In three minutes the last rider will take off, race leader Bradley Wiggins of Sky.

Wiggins all in yellow and ready to roll.

Andreas Klöden finishes with a great time, making him currently fourth.

Van Garderen also with the best time at the second time check, by two seconds.

Van Garderen has passed under the flamme rouge.

Van Garderen has lost time in the end, and can't to Cancellara's time. He is second by nine seconds.

Froome at the first time check,and he too is fast. In fat he sets a new best time, an astonishing 23 seconds faster than Van Garderen.

Wiggins is also flying along, holding his upper body perfectly still while the legs work hard.

Not such a good time for Menchov, only seventh at the first time check.

Schleck comes to the finish line, 3:35 down.

Nibali is riding, too, remember. He is at the frist time check, and is currently 10th.

Letour informs us that Wiggins is now over one minute ahead of Evans in GC.

I could have sworn I just saw a giant pink bunny cheering the riders along....

Evans at the first time check: 22.07, only the 12th best time!

Are we looking at a Wiggins-Froome one-two not only in this stage but also in the final GC?

Wiggins at the time check and he takes the lead, by 4.72 seconds.

Gallopin is at the finish now, with a time of 54:10, making him momentarily eleventh.

20km left for Wiggins.

Phillipe Gilbert calls this a technical course abnd the wind is favourable on a couple of quite testing ascents.

According to Richie Porte, it's not a super technical , but very nice, course one for the specialists. He was told to take it easy and he enjoyed it. Great crowds.

Tony Martin: This course is more for

15km for Evans.

Van Den Broeck is at the finish, and at the moment only 19th.

Thomas Voeckler: "There are a lot of changes of rhythm on the course so the non-specialists should have a chance to limit their losses."

George Hincapie called it a technical course, with not many straightaways. He was surprised by short ough hills and tight descents. He said it  suit Evans.

Froome comes to the finish and will take the lead.

He even breaks the 52 minute mark, but just barely: 51:59.59.

Cancellara says he lost his radio early on Fbut felt like he gave his all and did as well as he could do. He thought he's done enough to win. He couldn't give any more. 

Wiggins with the best time at the second time check, 16 seconds over Froome. Evans falling further back with every kilometer.

Mick Rogers said he went flat out at the first check to see how he placed, then eased off a bit. He called it a hard course especially after all the work done yesterday and that he is looking forward to big mountains where can set a fast tempo.

Zubeldia has finished as well. Only four riders left now: Menchov, Nibali, Evans and Wiggins.

In the virtual GC, Wiggins now has 1:46 over Evans.

Menchov with a time of 53:32, making him momentarily sixth.

Only 5km left for Wiggins.

The third to last rider is in. Nibali has a time of 53:31, making him sixth.

Evans is not far behind. What will his time be like?

Evans goes under the flamme rouge.

Evans' time is 53:07, and is fifth.

Wiggins in the last 500 metres.

He too will blast the best time.

And he wins the stage with a time of 51:24, 35 seconds faster than his teammate Froome.

What a show by the team Sky riders!

The top three are still Wiggins, Evans and Froome, but Wiggins has nearly two minutes now on the Australian.

"I'm very happy with my performance," Froome says.

Of course we did not mean to say that the top three remains Wiggins, Evans and Froome.

Here the top ten for the stage:

And the new GC:

Van Garderen reclaims the best young rider jersey.

That will do us for today. Thanks for reading along.

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