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 REPORTS



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>>

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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 plan

Cavendish survives the first Tour mountain stage with ease

Wiggins, the Tour de France overall contender, has arrived

EXCLUSIVE VIDEOS



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 GUIDE

Tour de France 2009 – the hub

Tour de France 2009: Who’s riding

Tour de France 2009: Team guide

About the Tour de France

FEATURES

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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