Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) silenced his critics and confirmed he is a big favourite for the Tour de France prologue in London by storming to victory in the 4.2km prologue of the Dauphine Libere in Grenoble on Sunday.
Wiggins set a time of 4-50 for the out and back course, beating 2006 overall winner Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel) by a second, with Andrey Kashechkin (Astana) third at two seconds.
The 27 year-old Londoner pushed a huge gear on the course and beat other big-name prologue specialists and rivals for London. George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) was fourth at two seconds, David Zabriskie (CSC) sixth at three seconds and Tom Boonen (Quick Step) seventh at four seconds.
Wiggins convincingly won the duel with British rival David Millar (Saunier Duval). Millar seemed uncomfortable on his time trial bike during the ride and finished eleventh, in a time of 4-56, six seconds off the pace.
Wiggins emotionally described his victory as the ?most important of my road-racing career so far.?
?Cofidis have been good, not putting too much pressure on me and letting me train for these events as I want. This is the result,? he said.
?Before this year I couldn?t say I was a favourite for London, I hadn?t got the results on the road for that, but now I am one of them. I can be confident of at least making the top five or perhaps even the top three.?
?If I thought I was just going to do an average ride in London, then I?d prefer not to race and go on holiday but I?m maybe in the best form of my life, and after this win I can go into the Tour feeling more relaxed.?
Thanks to his win, Wiggins is the first leader of the eight-day Dauphine Libere race and will wear the race leader’s jersey during Monday’s rolling 219km stage one from Grenoble to Roanne.
Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d?Epargne) put in the best ride of the Tour favourites overall, finishing sixth, three seconds down on Wiggins. Wiggins was reserved about his chances of retaining the jersey on Monday?s stage.
?It?s possible, but the team?s long-term interest in the race come first,? he said.
?We?ve got Sylvain Chavanel well-placed overall and we may save our strength to give him all the support we can.?
Whatever happens Wiggins has now proved to everyone that he is ready for the Tour de France prologue that is just four weeks away.
RESULTS: DAUPHINE LIBERE
1 Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) 4.2km in 4-50
2 Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel) at 0-01
3 Andrey Kascheckin (Astana) at 0-02
4 George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) at 0-02
5 Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d?Epargne) at 0-03
6 David Zabriskie (CSC) at same time
7 Tom Boonen (Quick Step) at 0-04
8 Nick Nuyens (Cofidis) at 0-05
9 Egoi Martinez (Discovery Channel) at s.t
10 Sebastien Joly (Francaise des Juex) at 0-06
11 David Millar (Saunier Duval) at 0-06