On a long hot day featuring the first hors catégorie climb of the Tour, the beautiful but tricky Col du Grand Colombier, Sky had absorbed the loss of Michael Rogers with a puncture at a crucial time to bring back a break by the dangerous Vincenzo Nibali on the descent that followed.
Further up the road, Frenchman Thomas Voeckler came home for a typically opportunistic and popular win but Wiggins and Sky kept their cool to chase down Nibali and nip in the bud a late burst from Cadel Evans. That meant their 1 min 53 sec lead remained intact, a useful buffer for Thursday’s massive alpine stage which features three of the biggest climbs on the Tour.
Nibali was one of two riders along with Jurgen Van den Broeck to try and attack Wiggins, on the descent of the Grand Colombier climb.
His Sky team, however, set a pace that quickly reeled the Italian in before the final, short climb to the summit of the Col de Richemond.
“I didn’t panic when he attacked,” said Wiggins.
“He’s over two minutes behind me and I knew he’d have to be really strong in the valley if he was to stay away.”
Former Giro d’Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali says Bradley Wiggins should show more respect for cycling’s traditions – and him.
Nibali said Wiggins stared at him in a disrespectful manner at the finish line.
“They are really strong at the moment, but he should show more respect for his competitors,” said Nibali, who won the Spanish Vuelta two years ago and was third in the Giro last season. “Wiggins looked at me at the finish and I really did not like the way he did it. He also gestured with his hand in an unpleasant way.”
“Of course he is a good rider. But I’m speaking about respect, about tradition. In cycling, riders have always shown a great respect toward each others. We are not footballers.” said Nabali