Report: Wiggins sees Sanchez cut into his lead at Romandie

Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins was 22nd today on stage 3 and saw his overall lead cut to a just a single second by stage winner, Luis León Sánchez

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Having led the race from the finish of the prologue when Geraint Thomas raced into Yellow, Team Sky again had a tough job to protect Wiggin’s slender lead in the GC on the fourth day of the race. A five-man break comprising former British Junior Road Race Champion Matt Brammeier (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Leigh Howard (GreenEDGE), Anders Lund (Saxo Bank), Gatis Smukulis (Katusha) and Tosh Van der Sande (Belisol-Lotto) went clear after just 10km and were given the freedom to open up an advantage of over five minutes.

With Howard the best positioned on the general classification only 3:43 back from Wiggins, the Sky team had to work hard to limit their lead before then trying to bring them back to the fold in the final 50 kilometres. The closer the race got to the finish, the more other teams joined in and with only six kilometres to go, the race was back together. With Australian’s Richie Porte and Michael Rogers helping Wiggins, Sky were able to keep the yellow jersey at the front of the race before the bunch kick to settle the stage where Sánchez out sprinted Meersman (Lotto Belisol) to grab the ten second bonus.

Afterwards, Wiggins was again keen to pay tribute to his team-mates for a job well done, making particular mention of Mark Cavendish who did much of the work on the front. Wiggins said to the Team Sky website: “It was pretty straightforward for me; the boys took the load once again and made my job pretty easy really. Cav just wanted to help and be part of it and that shows the mark of him as a champion – sitting there behind, watching the world champion is quite something. He was brilliant and gave his all. He was making a few people hurt that’s for sure.”

“There were no real nervous moments and I just wanted to stay safe at the end there. That was the priority and I didn’t have any plans to go for a stage win today.” A tough penultimate stage on Saturday takes the riders 184km from Bulle to Sion before the race is rounded off with a 16.5km time trial around Crans-Montana and Sports Director Sean Yates is expecting more of the same from his men.

Yates explained “It was slightly easier for the team compared to yesterday and there was a marked improvement in Cav’s form – he, Geraint [Thomas] and Danny [Pate] rode pretty much until 30k to go when other teams started to take it up. When you are leading the race, that’s what you have to do. Tomorrow is harder terrain-wise but that should make it a bit more selective and possibly easier to control. I think we’ve got the team to deal with it and our aim remains the same – to deliver Brad in the best possible position for the final TT.”

1. Luis Sanchez Rabobank 3:58:29
2. Gianni Meersman Lotto – Belisol Team
3. Paolo Tiralongo Astana Pro Team
4. Andrew Talansky Garmin – Barracuda
5. Bauke Mollema Rabobank Cycling Team
6. Rinaldo Nocentini Ag2R – La Mondiale
7. Maciej Paterski Liquigas – Cannondale
8. Giampaolo Caruso Katusha Team
9. Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui Euskaltel – Euskadi
10. Fabrice Jeandesboz Saur – Sojasun

22. Bradley Wiggins Sky Procycling
27. Richie Porte Sky Procycling
31. Michael Rogers Sky Procycling
38. Cadel Evans BMC Racing Team
55. Andr̩as Kl̦den RadioShack РNissan
62. Ivan Basso Liquigas – Cannondale
126. Matthew Brammeier Omega Pharma – Quickstep @ 4.49
148. Christopher Froome Sky Procycling @6:33
150. Geraint Thomas Sky Procycling @12:33
151. Mark Cavendish Sky Procycling

1. Bradley Wiggins Sky Procycling 12:40:31
2. Luis Leon Sanchez Gil Rabobank Cycling Team 00:01
3. Michael Rogers Sky Procycling 00:07
4. Bauke Mollema Rabobank Cycling Team 00:09
5. Stef Clement Rabobank Cycling Team
6. Andrew Talansky Garmin – Barracuda 00:11
7. Wilco Kelderman Rabobank Cycling Team
8. David Zabriskie Garmin – Barracuda 00:12
9. Simon Spilak Katusha Team
10. Ruben Plaza Molina Movistar Team

22. Andr̩as Kl̦den RadioShack РNissan @ 18
31. Cadel Evans BMC Racing Team 00:21
39. Daniel Martin Garmin – Barracuda
52. Richie Porte Sky Procycling @ 28
137. Matthew Brammeier Omega Pharma – Quickstep 19:48
151. Geraint Thomas Sky Procycling 28:25
152. Mark Cavendish Sky Procycling 32:29


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