Bradley Wiggins always feared the 2009 Tour de France stage to Le Grand Bornand would be the most difficult for him and sadly his chances of finishing on the final podium in Paris have taken a huge blow.
Wiggins again performed better than ever before in the mountains but the eight per cent gradient of the Col de Romme and the Col de la Colombiere were just a little too steep for him.
The British Garmin-Slipstream rider was unable to go with Andy and Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) when they attacked with Alberto Contador (Astana). He fought all the way, digging deep and hurting, with some excellent help from Garmin team mate Christian Vande Velde, but he finished seventh, 3-07 behind stage winner Frank Schleck.
Wiggins slipped to sixth overall, 4-53 behind Contador. Andy and Frank Schleck are now second and third at 2-26 and 3-25. Lance Armstrong is fourth at 3-55 and his Astana team mate Andreas Kloden is fifth at 4-44.
Wiggins was angry as he crossed the line. He probably wanted to disappear and some how get ride of his anger and disappointment but had been selected for doping control and so was forced to turn around and head back to the finish area.
After giving his sample he rode quickly to the Garmin bus but was in no mood to talk. He later sent a short comment via his Garmin team.
“Today was hard. It was the first multiple mountains I’ve ever contested for GC,” he said.
“The team – especially Christian and Dave Z rode amazingly. I pushed as hard as I possibly could have and now I need to recover, rest and focus on tomorrow.”
Wiggins knows that Thursday’s time trial will now be crucial in the battle for podium places, just like Saturday’s mountain finish at the summit of Mont Ventoux.
Wiggins, Armstrong and Kloden can perhaps gain time on the Schlecks in the time trial but they are promising to take it back by attacking on Ventoux.
Wiggins is 1-28 behind third placed Frank Schleck. He could gain that on the Luxembourgeois rider in the 40.5km time trial but Schleck will surely go on the attack on the climb to Mont Ventoux.
A place on the podium in Paris is not impossible but is now a major uphill challenge, one which will be decided on the slopes of Mont Ventoux.
TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 LINKS
Tour de France 2009 - the hub: Index to reports, photos, previews and more.
Stage 17: Schleck brothers overhaul Wiggins as Frank wins the stage
Stage 16: Astarloza snatches Alps stage win as contenders wind up the pace
Stage 15: Contador wins in Verbier as Tour explodes into life
Stage 14: Ivanov wins as Nocentini clings onto yellow
Stage 13: Haussler braves rain for victory in Colmar
Stage 12: Sorensen wins in Vittel as Cavendish goes for green
Stage 11: Cavendish takes fourth win to equal Hoban's record
Stage 10: Cavendish spoils Bastille Day party to take third stage win
Stage nine: Third French win as contenders content with ceasefire
stage eight: Sanchez wins from break as Tour favourites cancel each other out
Stage seven: Feillu wins at Arcalis, Nocentini takes yellow, Contador leap-frogs Lance
Stage six: Millar's brave bid denied on Barcelona hill as Hushovd triumphs
Stage five: Voeckler survives chase to win his first Tour stage
Stage four: Astana on top but Armstrong misses yellow by hundredths of a second
Live Tour de France stage four TTT coverage
Stage three: Cavendish wins second stage as Armstrong distances Contador
Stage two: Cavendish takes first sprint
Stage one: Cancellara wins opening time trial
LATEST TOUR NEWS
Tour de France 2009 News Index>>
Astana to split after Tour
Voigt crashes out of Tour
Armstrong fighting hard for Tour podium place
Wiggins gets closer to Tour podium place
Who's won what so far in the Tour de France
How the Tour favourite are doing (Rest day 2)
Wiggins climbs to third in Tour overall
Armstrong concedes he can't win the 2009 Tour
Tom Boonen quits the Tour de France
Stage 15 analysis: Is the Tour now over?
Columbia criticise Garmin for chasing Hincapie
Cavendish reveals he is going for green
Tour comment: The suspense is killing us
Analysis: Why Cavendish is one of the modern greats
Radio ban over-turned for Friday's Tour stage
Arvesen out of Tour with fractured collarbone
Tour analysis: Why the go slow did cycling no favours on Bastille Day
Cavendish's odd stage 10 finish celebration explained
No radios today, but experiment could be a one-off
Tour audio: Mark Cavendish after stage 10
Contador brushes aside talk of Armstrong conflict
Cavendish odds-on favourite for Bastille Day victory
The Tour de France Comment: Monday, July 13
How the favourites are doing (first rest day)
Wiggins stays with leaders at Tour
Armstrong: 'If Contador wins, I'll be second'
Wiggins 'on cloud nine' at Tour de France
Armstrong says Contador attack wasn't in the planCavendish survives the first Tour mountain stage with ease
Wiggins, the Tour de France overall contender, has arrived
Garmin-Slipstream's HQ before the Tour
David Zabriskie's time trial bike
Mark Cavendish on the Tour's team time trial
David Brailsford interview
Mark Cavendish on the Tour
Jonathan Vaughters on Bradley Wiggins' chances
TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 PHOTOS
Stage 16 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 15 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 14 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 13 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 12 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 11 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 10 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four TTT photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one photo gallery by Andy Jones
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Team presentation by Andy Jones
Team presentation by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2009 - the hub
Tour de France 2009: Who's riding
Tour de France 2009: Team guide
About the Tour de France
Tour de France 2009: Who will win?
Tour de France 2009 on TV: Eurosport and ITV4 schedules
Big names missing from 2009 Tour de France
Tour de France anti-doping measures explained
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Cycling Weekly's rider profiles
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