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Wiggins is Back and Set for the Podium in Paris Nice
13 Mar, 2011 - Team SKY

The British champion looked in fine form on the 27km trek from Rognes to Aix-en-Provence and had clocked the fastest time of the day when he crossed the line eight seconds ahead of Richie Porte (Saxo Bank-Sungard) in 33 minutes and 44 seconds.

That was how things stayed until Tony Martin went one better on one of the final rides of the day, with the HTC-Highroad star battling admirably to secure his victory by 20 seconds.

That performance also saw Martin take control of the yellow jersey and the German now holds a 36-second advantage over Andreas Klöden (RadioShack) - who finished fourth on the day - at the top of the general classification. Wiggins meanwhile, sits just three seconds further adrift with two stages still to go.

Clement conditions had prevailed throughout the sixth day of action in France and Geraint Thomas had been the first rider to put down a significant marker when he clocked a time of 35min 25sec early in the stage.

Only five riders had bettered that time when Wiggins surged down the start ramp, and the 30-year-old gave it everything he had to set a formidable target which only Martin was able to better on the day.

Elsewhere, Michael Rogers had followed Wiggins down the road and was next fastest Team Sky rider home in 22nd position, one place ahead of the ever-industrious Thomas. That result also saw Rogers move up to 13th in the overall standings, 2min 17sec off the pace.

Yates impressed

When we caught up with Sean Yates on the way back to base, he was full of praise for Wiggins' performance and revealed the team would be going all-out now to try and maintain his position on the GC.

He told us: "It was a great result for Brad and he's proved once again he's up there with the best of them in this discipline.

"I think Mick was slightly disappointed with his ride but the birth of his third child last month meant he didn't have the perfect preparation leading up to the race so he shouldn't be too down on himself.

"He kept on fighting until the end and managed to get 13th on GC. He could feasibly break into the top 10 as well now, which would be really good to see.

"Mick has been a great influence on Brad since he signed for us and the understanding that those two guys have built up has been really encouraging. He's going to be a great asset for Brad in the next two days and the whole team will be doing all they can now to help him try and stay in the top three.

"Obviously, there's still a chance we can move up as well, and everyone is keen to do that, but finishing third in a race like Paris-Nice would be a good result and earn us even more WorldTour points.

"In terms of some of the other guys, G gave it his best shot but we wanted Simon [Gerrans] to take it easy because he had a rough time of it on Thursday. Unless you're in peak condition there isn't much point in overstretching yourself and we're going to need him over the next few days."

All to play for

The race returns to the mountains now for the final two days of action and Yates believes there could be plenty of twists and turns to come before the winner is unveiled in Nice on Sunday.

He added: "It's going to be hotly contested over the weekend, that's for sure, because RadioShack have got three guys inside the top 10 and they will be doing all they can to try and wrestle the jersey from Tony Martin.

"HTC-Highroad are man down and could find it hard to protect Tony if other teams put the boot in. We're going to keep on fighting as well, but our priority now has to be guarding our position in the standings."

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