Bradley Wiggins destroyed the opposition to win his first Tour de France stage in the 41.5km individual time trial from Arc-et-Senans to Besancon this afternoon.
The Team Sky rider beat team-mate Chris Froome by 35 seconds, while early pace setter Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) had to settle for third.
Crucially though for Wiggins, he finished an impressive 1-43 ahead of defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) 2-07 in arrears.
Going into tomorrow’s first rest day, two British riders sit first and third on GC, a remarkable feat and one reminiscent of last year’s Vuelta.
Evans is now 1-53 behind Wiggins, with Froome just 14 seconds behind the Australian.
It initially appeared that Cancellara’s time of 52-21 for the undulating course would be enough for him to notch up his ninth Tour stage victory.
Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) looked like he was going to knock the Swiss rider off top spot. However, after a fast start, Van Garderen finished nine seconds off the provisional fastest time.
By then, Froome was underway and going even faster and, having set the fastest time at both checkpoints along the course, he duly set the fastest time.
With only five riders left to finish after Froome, it seemed likely that only Wiggins could beat that time. And that was exactly what he did; five seconds faster at the 16.5km mark, he was 16 seconds quicker at the 31.5km check. Come the finish, Wiggins had put an impressive 35 seconds into his team-mate.
Froome’s ride was still good enough to see him leapfrog Haimar Zubeldia, Denis Menchov and Vincenzo Nibali on GC.
Aditionally, only four riders are within three minutes of Wiggins on the standings, and seven sit under five minutes.
“Everyone was tired last night, and you don’t know how you were going to recover, but that’s what I’m good at,” Wiggins said afterwards. “I felt good today, as soon as I did my first pedal stroke I knew I was on a good one.
“I didn’t set out for the stage win, to get that is a bonus.”
Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) now lies 8-19 off Wiggins in 17th place, with former Giro winners Ivan Basso and Michele Scarponi 9-06 and 10-27 behind respectively.
Tour de France 2012, stage nine: Arc-et-Senans to Besancon, 41.5km
1. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky in 51-24
2. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at 35 secs
3. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan at 57 secs
4. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 1-06
5. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 1-24
6. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 1-43
7. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 1-59
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 2-07
9. Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha at 2-08
10. Andreas Kloden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan at 2-09
12. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 2-16
23. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2r La Mondiale at 3-08
36. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp at 4-14
39. Steve Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing at 4-23
44. Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan at 4-32
51. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 4-46
161. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky at 8-43
Overall classification after stage nine
1. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky in 39-09-20
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 1-53
3. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at 2-07
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 2-23
5. Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha at 3-02
6. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan at 3-19
7. Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan at 4-23
8. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 5-14
9. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol at 5-20
10. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2r La Mondiale at 5-29
Chris Froome on his way to second
Tour de France 2012: Latest news
Wiggins lashes out after doping accusations
Evans and BMC out-gunned by Sky in the mountains
Wiggins looking to keep Tour lead until Paris
Froome on Tour stage win: I had the legs and went for it
Martin to lead Garmin in the mountains as Hesjedal withdraws
Dislocated shoulder hinders Greipel sprint
Hesjedal may be out of Tour after Garmin suffer in crash
Stage seven video preview
The Feed Zone: Tour news round-up (July 5)
Celebrating the Tour’s lead-out men
Liquigas’s yellow and green jersey aim at Tour
Brailsford: Sky on the front for Cav and Wiggins
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks
Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage
Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage
Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades
Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes
Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne
Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Analysis: What we learned at La Planche des Belles Filles
Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour’s time trials
CW’s Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation – chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Stage eight by Graham Watson
Stage seven by Graham Watson
Stage six by Graham Watson
Stage five by Graham Watson
Stage four by Graham Watson
Stage three by Graham Watson
Stage two by Andy Jones
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce
Tour de France 2012: Related links
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Brief history of the Tour de France
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever