Alex Dowsett wins Bradley Wiggins’ stage

This is the problem when you have your entire offensive centred on just one stage. If it doesn’t go enormously well, what do you do? Bradley Wiggins was expecting to at least go into the race lead after yesterday’s time trial and he was hoping to put significant time into his rivals. As it turns out, he came second on the day and only managed to rise to fourth overall. Alex Dowsett came first. Like Wiggins, he’s British. Unlike Wiggins, he’s a haemophiliac.

Here’s how the general classification contenders fared:

Vincenzo Nibali

Mr Nibbles has been working on his time trialling over the winter, testing different aerodynamic positions and stuff. However, the fact that he finished only 21 seconds down on Dowsett (11 seconds down on Wiggins) probably had more to do with his performance on the first half of the course, which was all up and down with more corners than a big bag of pyramids. He is now the race leader.

Cadel Evans

Cadel Evans is actually looking increasingly good, which is great news for fans of intelligent middle-aged sportsmen (and I count myself among their number). He lost just 29 seconds to Wiggins on the day and is now second overall by the same amount of time. Intriguingly, he was quickest up the punishing final climb to the finish.

Robert Gesink

Gesink finished 11th – the kind of no-man’s land he seems to favour. However, if you always finish 11th, you’ll find that most of the 10 above you on any given stage will shed a great whack of time on another day. He therefore now lies third overall, 1m15s behind Nibali.

Bradley Wiggins

Wiggins was pretty ordinary going round the corners at the start and also suffered a puncture which probably lost him about 20 seconds. He was then as fantastic as always on the long flat stretch and then second-fastest on the final climb, which at least gives some cause for optimism. What does that mean? It means his best chance of gaining time is now via a long climb which isn’t too steep, which we knew anyway.

Ryder Hesjedal

Hesjedal was the big loser on the day. That’s not meant as an American teen style insult, it’s just a statement of fact. He finished 2m23s down on the day and has slipped to sixth place overall, 2m05s behind Nibali.

A few others

Domenico Pozzovivo (I’m not going to stop mentioning him) finished 2m34s down. As you might have guessed, he doesn’t like time trials. Michele Scarponi finished just 53 seconds down and now lies fifth overall. Carlos Betancur lost (oof!) 5m19s on the day, which makes even Pozzovivo look good.

Alex Dowsett is 144th overall if you’re wondering, 57 minutes behind. Not everyone’s racing for the general classification. Some riders are targeting particular stages and simply riding in support of others the rest of the time. Others are only there for the latter.