Already the race leader, Bradley Wiggins met all expectations as he rode at perfection during the 53.5km individual time trial. He’s been close to catch his arch-rival Cadel Evans who looks in a position to possibly finish second at the Dauphiné for the fifth time of his career. Many things can happen during the last three days in the Alps but the performances of Wiggins’ team-mates Michael Rogers and Chris Froome who are respectively third and seventh on GC obviously have the strength to defend the yellow-blue jersey till the end.
Luke Durbridge on Olympic form
Luke Durbridge continued to perform against the clock on the sunny and windy course from Villié-Morgon to Bourg-en-Bresse. He set interesting times at the two check points: 20.50 after 18km and 49.48 after 40.5km. It served as a reference for the other favourites. The Australian champion who was racing with the Olympic selection in sight crossed the finishing line at an average speed of 49.52km/h.
Baby power… temporarily!
The first rider to beat Durbridge after two hours and five minutes of the Australian champion leading the race was Wilco Kelderman (RAB). At that point, the two youngest riders of the Dauphiné, both aged 21, had the two best times until triple world champion Michael Rogers (SKY) completed the 53.5km course at the average speed of 49.85km/h. But the current world champion for time trial Tony Martin (OPQ) was the first to exceed the limit of 50km/h: he rode at 50.34km/h.
Wiggins outclasses Evans
The second time check after 40.5 kilometres of racing gave a clear indication on Bradley Wiggins’ superiority, for the stage win as well as on GC. He had 36 seconds advantage over Martin with 13km to go and could see ahead of him Cadel Evans who started two minutes before him. The Briton remained focused on his own race. He maintained the same rhythm as Martin in the last part of the race and won stage 4 by 34 seconds. He’ll start stage 5 in Saint-Trivier-sur-Moignan, the home of Mavic, with a lead of 38 seconds over Martin and 1.44 over Evans who is now fifth on GC.
“Today’s time trial was not a goal but a test. I had kind of lost my time trial abilities because we didn’t work on it at Cofidis but the time trial of the Bayern Rundfahrt two weeks ago put me back into confidence. However, I wasn’t sure of what I could do on a distance of 53km. It went all right. I’m not targeting the overall classification at the Dauphiné but to win the green jersey seems possible. Tomorrow, providing that I survive the Grand Colombier, I might be able to reach the finishing line in a small group at the front and score some points. On Saturday, it’s too hard for me but Sunday’s stage to Chatel can suit me.”
“This is the first time for me to ride such a long time trial. I had never done more than 33 kilometres. At the Tour of California, I finished 27th in the time trial, so I was hoping for the top 30 today, nothing more. To come fourth is totally unexpected. When I heard that I had ten seconds advantage over Luke Durbridge at the first time check, I thought that was not possible! But at the next one, I was doing really well again, so I kept pushing till the end. I never knew that I could be so good in time trial. Here at the Dauphiné, the white jersey of best young rider is my real goal but there are hard stages to come and Rein Taarämae is a very strong rider.”
“This was a super good course for me. It was really my thing although there was a lot wind. I’ve trained all my life for that. It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to beat the world champion [Tony Martin]. That’s more important for me than beating Cadel Evans. I got everything out of my own effort. When I’ve seen Cadel ahead of me, it hasn’t changed anything for me. I remained focused on my own effort because I didn’t know what Cadel was doing, if he was focused or not, if he had good feelings or not. If he didn’t have anything to drink, it must have been a real disadvantage on that course today. I knew anyway from the two time checks that I was ahead of him. Maybe this is a message for the Tour… but I’m sure that Cadel will increase his level before the Tour. For now, we’re at the Dauphiné and the Tour is something else. Last year, Cadel was also behind me at the Dauphiné. I came back here because I won last year. It’s the same this year. I want to win again and I have a good team for making it. We’ve trained for that. The boys have proved they’re strong enough to support me till the end. These guys have showed their fitness. There are still three tough days to come.”
1. Bradley Wiggins, 1.03.12
2. Martin, at 0.34
3. Rogers, at 1.11
4. Kelderman, at 1.25
5. Chavanel, at 1.33
Bradley Wiggins wins stage 4 with the best time of 1.03.12 at the average speed of 50.79.
Tony Martin scores the new best time on the line: 1.03.46. He’s the first rider above 50km/h: 50.34.
Bradley Wiggins sees Cadel Evans ahead of him. He might catch the Australian who started two minutes before him but is probably handicaped by the loss of his water bottle.
Standings after 40.5km:
1. Bradley Wiggins, 48.17
2. Martin, at 0.36
3. Rogers, at 1.01
4. Chavanel, at 1.05
5. Kelderman, at 1.10
6. LL. Sanchez, at 1.26
7. Millar, at 1.28
8. Froome, at 1.29
9. Durbridge, at 1.31
10. Evans, at 1.37