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Wiggins Strengthens His Hold on Tour de France’s Yellow Jersey

Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins extended his advantage over defending champion Cadel Evans by winning a time trial for his first stage victory in cycling’s biggest event.

British rider Wiggins bent over his bike in exhaustion after improving his 10-second lead over Evans to 1 minute, 53 seconds following yesterday’s 41.5-kilometer (25.8-mile) ride against the clock between Arc-et-Senans and Besancon.

“That’s what I do best: time-trialing,” Wiggins, who posted a time of 51 minutes, 24 seconds, told Eurosport after recovering. “I get into my zone.”

Chris Froome, Wiggins’s Team Sky teammate, finished second yesterday to move up to third overall -- 14 seconds behind Australian Evans, who was sixth in the Stage 9 time trial.

Wiggins is now the 1-3 favorite to become the U.K.’s first Tour de France winner having started the 20-stage race at odds of 6-5, according to U.K. bookmaker Coral. Today is a rest day before tomorrow’s 120-mile ride in the Jura mountain range that includes an ascent of the Col du Grand Colombier.

The 178 remaining riders -- 20 have withdrawn injured -- raced against the clock yesterday in reverse order to their place in the overall classification.

In bright sunshine, Wiggins started at 4:39 p.m. local time, three minutes after Evans, and built a lead of more than a minute over him after 10 miles.

Wiggins said Team Sky’s senior sports director Sean Yates urged him on over the radio, reminding him he had missed his children’s birthdays to train for the Tour.

“Bradley delivered, but there’s still a long way to Paris,” Yates told Eurosport, referring to the last day of the race on July 22.

Wiggins won two Olympic track-cycling gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games. He matched a British-best fourth place at the 2009 Tour de France, missing last year’s edition after breaking his collarbone.

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