Switzerland — Garmin-Slipstream rider Bradley Wiggins surprised the contenders in the 2009 Tour de France with an incredible ride in Sunday’s tough Stage 15 race to a summit finish in Verbier, Switzerland. Wiggins finished fifth on the day, 1:06 behind stage winner Alberto Contador of Spain, a result that moved Wiggins up to third overall in the general classification.
Wiggins, a five-time Olympic medalist on the track, has transitioned into one of the world’s top stage racers. With one week left in this year’s Tour, the Brit has emerged as a real threat to make the podium in Paris.
Sunday’s Stage 15, a 207.5km race from Pontarlier, France, to Verbier, Switzerland, was expected to be a showdown among the climbers and overall contenders. Garmin-Slipstream’s Ryder Hesjedal rode aggressively early in the day, joining a 10-man break that went away with 137km remaining.
The break stayed away until the final climb, a Cat. 1 ascent that finished in Verbier. Thanks to solid teamwork, both Garmin-Slipstream GC leaders—Christian Vande Velde and Bradley Wiggins—were perfectly positioned for the final climb. Wiggins proved a bit stronger, but Vande Velde also stayed high in the rankings, finishing the day 12th in the general classification.
Monday is a rest day for the Tour, followed by an exciting final week of mountain stages before next Sunday’s finish in Paris.
TOUR DE FRANCE STAGE 15 RESULTS
Pontarlier to Verbier, 207.5km
1. Alberto Contador (Spa), Astana, 5:03:58
2. Andy Schleck (Lux), Saxo Bank, at 0:43
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita), Liquigas, at 1:03
4. Frank Schleck (Lux), Saxo Bank, at 1:06
5. Bradley Wiggins (GB), Garmin-Slipstream, at 1:06
OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 15
1. Alberto Contador (Spa), Astana, at 0:06
2. Lance Armstrong (USA), Astana, at 0:08
3. Bradley Wiggins (GB), Garmin-Slipstream, at 1:46
4. Andreas Kloden (Ger), Astana, at 2:17
5. Andy Schleck (Lu), Saxo Ban, at 2:26
12. Christian Vande Velde (USA), Garmin-Slipstream, at 3:59