Bradley Wiggins’ rubberstamped his status as a leading contender for July’s Tour de France crown with overall victory in the Tour of Romandie.
Wiggins had led the Swiss stage race from the second day but relinquished the lead on Saturday and trailed Rabobank’s Luis Leon Sanchez in the general classification by nine seconds going into the final stage, a 16.5km individual time trial in Crans-Montana.
But the 32-year-old produced a stunning performance against the clock to win the final stage and become the first rider since Dario Frigo in 2001 to win Paris-Nice and the Tour de Romandie in the same season.
Wiggins suffered a mechanical just two kilometres after rolling off the start ramp but recovered to post a time of 28:56.60 minutes to finish 0.70 seconds ahead of Garmin-Barracuda’s Andrew Talansky, while Wiggins’ Sky team-mate Richie Porte completed the stage podium. Sanchez finished nearly one-and-a-half minutes off the pace in 22nd.
Talansky secured second place in the general classification, 12 seconds adrift of Wiggins, while Movistar’s Rui Costa finished third overall, a further 24 seconds back.
Wiggins’ victory caps a superb week for Team Sky, with Geraint Thomas winning the opening prologue, while Wiggins triumphed on stage one – and the Londoner was quick to pay tribute to his team-mates.
“It’s really nice to finish it off in a time trial on the last day for the boys,” said Wiggins. “All week they’ve been incredible – it doesn’t matter how strong you are as an individual, without those team-mates this week I wouldn’t be in this position.
“What a team we’ve had here this week; you know you’re in a great team when you’ve got the world champion riding for you on the front.
“It was a true test of a GC rider; it had a bit of everything in it plus a mechanical for myself. I’m pleased with the way I handled that moment because a few years ago I might have thrown my toys out of the pram and chucked my bike down the ravine! It was a good test for the bigger races coming up and I’m delighted.
“I think [this year] is a result of the hard work I’ve put in this winter. I’ve really grafted at it and hopefully there’s more to come.”
Tour de Romandie stage five
1) Bradley Wiggins (GBR) – Team Sky 28:56.60 minutes
2) Andrew Talansky (USA) – Garmin-Barracuda +00.70″
3) Richie Porte (AUS) – Team Sky +16.59″
4) Rui Costa (POR) – Movistar +22.84″
5) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) – Astana +40.18″
6) Sylvester Szmyd (POL) – Liquigas-Cannondale +41.60″
7) Michael Rogers (AUS) – Team Sky +42.88″
8) Thibaut Pinot (FRA) – FDJ-Big Mat +52.17″
9) Thomas De Gendt (BEL) – Vacansoleil-DCM +53.59″
10) Janez Brajkovic (SLO) – Astana +54.63″
1) Bradley Wiggins (GBR) – Team Sky18:05:40 hours
2) Andrew Talansky (USA) – Garmin-Barracuda +12″
3) Rui Costa (POR) – Movistar +36″
4) Richie Porte (AUS) Team Sky +45″
5) Michael Rogers (AUS) – Team Sky +50″
6) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) – Astana +59″
7) Sylvester Szmyd (POL) – Liquigas-Cannondale +1’03”
8) Simon Spilak (SLO) – Katusha +1’13”
9) Janez Brajkovic (SLO) – Astana +1’14”
10) Luis Leon Sanchez (SPA) – Rabobank +1’15”