Storm-force winds could not prevent Bradley Wiggins from taking a superb victory in the opening time trial of the Four Days of Dunkirk on Tuesday.
Despite the adverse weather conditions and a course just nine kilometres long the Cofidis rider finished an impressive 12 seconds clear of closest rival, William Bonnet (Credit Agricole), with Sebastian Joly (Francaise des Jeux) in third place a further 26 seconds back.
Wiggins told reporters that he had done a lot of hard training in preparation for his first road-race victory as a pro since 2005.
?This was a circuit which suited me well, a good distance and I?d studied the course in depth. It was really windy, though, but that was the only factor not in my favour.?
The Briton added that his success in the World Track Championships in Mallorca had given him a lot of confidence for the Dunkirk time trial, and pointed out that Dunkirk was a good test for the London prologue – being just one kilometre shorter.
?It?s a very similar distance to the one here in Dunkirk, and hopefully it won?t be so windy in July.? Wiggins said.
Wiggins was not optimistic about his chances of taking the race overall, citing the Mont Cassel climb on Saturday – tackled eight times – as his biggest obstacle.
But in any case, the Briton’s victory will be valued highly by his team, Cofidis. The company are based in northern France and the Four Days of Dunkirk is their biggest local race.
Of the other Britons taking part in Dunkirk, Paul Manning (Landbouwkrediet) took the next best result, in 38th spot, 46 seconds down.
FOUR DAYS OF DUNKIRK: STAGE ONE TT
1 Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) 10’39″32
2 William Bonnet (Credit Agricole) 10’51″27
3 Sebastien Joly (FDJ) 11’05″58
4 Niki Terpstra (Milram) 11’06″78
5 Lars Bak (CSC) 11’07″26
6 Sebastien Minard (Cofidis) 11’08″41
7 Dominique Cornu (Predictor-Lotto) 11’10″05
8 Bert Roesems (Predictor-Lotto) 11’10″21
9 Nicolas Vogondy (Ag2r) 11’10″83
10 Cedric Vasseur (Quick Step) 11’12″20
38 Paul Manning (Landbouwkrediet) 11’25″91
47 Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) 11’27″47
67 Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) 11’34″96
69 Ed Clancy (Landbouwkrediet) 11’35″70
99 Evan Oliphant (DFL) 11’47″67
127 Daniel Lloyd (DFL) 11’59″90
167 Jeremy Hunt (Unibet.com) 12’23″18
168 Hamish Haynes (DFL) 12’24″71
181 Kristian House (Navigators) 12’58″92
Official race website: www.4joursdedunkerque.org.