Britain's Bradley Wiggins showed Monday he's the man to beat at the Tour de France, winning the first big time trial and cementing his hold on the yellow jersey that he wants to take home in two weeks.
The three-time Olympic track champion dominated the race against the clock - a discipline he loves - in the 41.5-kilometer (25.8-mile) ninth stage between Arc-et-Senans and Besancon.
Christopher Froome, his Sky teammate and compatriot who won Saturday's seventh stage, was second - 35 seconds behind. Their one-two punch was especially hard on Australian Cadel Evans, the defending champion, who finished 1:43 behind Wiggins in sixth.
Overall, Evans - who remains second - trails Wiggins by 1:53, while Froome jumped to third, from sixth, and is 2:07 back of his teammate.
"I was really motivated - the time trial is my thing," Wiggins told French TV, saying he had worked hard on his riding position, breathing and reconnaissance of the course route. "I am very happy now."
"That was my physical best out there," he said of his first Tour stage win. "It's probably my best time trial ever."
Wiggins insisted the three-week race is far from over, and said a mishap like a crash or illness could douse his victory hopes. He also noted that Evans has vowed to fight to the finish.
"It's never over until the fat lady sings, and she hasn't entered the building yet," he said.
But the stage raises questions about whether Evans - or anyone else - can challenge Wiggins and his team, who have shown strength in both the climbs and in the time trials that often determine the Tour winner.
Wiggins said he came into the stage looking to gain time in the overall standings - part of his aim to be the first Briton ever win the Tour. A stage win was not his top priority.
"My goal was to get a minute on Cadel ... I've come away with a bit more than that, it's a bonus," Wiggins said. "Winning the stage is like Christmas, it's brilliant."
Evans struggled by comparison. By the first time check, at 16.5 kilometers, the Australian was more than a minute slower than Wiggins - but the defending champion was able to limit the damage after that.
Evans said he was "a little bit disappointed" but insisted the Tour wasn't over yet: "I rode not my best time trial but certainly not a bad one."
"But Sky had two very, very, very strong riders today," he added.
Riders set off one-by-one down the starter's ramp for the time trial.
On one of the warmest days so far this Tour, many crossed the finish with white spittle ringing their lips - a sign of dehydration. Unlike usual road stages, time trials require solo efforts - and riding form, concentration and rhythm count a lot.
After 10 straight days of racing, the 178-rider pack gets its first rest day Tuesday before heading to two hard days in the Alps including a summit finish on Thursday that is likely to shake up the standings.