Tour de France: Tony Martin leads the way in early stages of ninth stage
WORLD time-trial champion Tony Martin was the early leader of the Tour de France's ninth stage on a day when Bradley Wiggins was aiming to enhance his position in the race leader's yellow jersey.
Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) clocked 53 minutes 40 seconds on the 41.5-kilometre race against the clock from Arc-et-Senans to Besancon.
The German beat Wiggins (Team Sky) into silver in Copenhagen last September, but after a torrid Tour thus far which saw him fracture a wrist, was 67th of the 178 starters.
As race leader, Wiggins was set to start last, at 16:39 local time (15:39BST), two minutes behind defending champion and nearest rival Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).
Wiggins began the day with a 10-second lead over the Australian.
The time-trial, coming ahead of tomorrow's rest day, could be significant in the race for the maillot jaune, with this year's Tour featuring more than 100km of racing against the clock before the finish in Paris on July 22.
Lieuwe Westra was second among the early starters after clocking 54mins 09secs, with his Vacansoleil-DCM team-mate Gustav Larsson third in 54:19.
Luis-Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) sat fourth, 52 seconds behind in 54:32, with two Britons just behind him.
David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) was sixth in 55:38 and Steve Cummings (BMC Racing) sixth, nine seconds further adrift.
Mark Cavendish (Team Sky), the world road race champion, was 6:27 behind in 1:00.07.