Wiggins wins national title
Thomas, Kennaugh and Stannard all in the mix
Last Updated: June 26, 2011 8:16pm
Bradley Wiggins demonstrated he is in supreme form entering the Tour de France with victory in the British National Championships in Northumberland as Team Sky riders filled the first four places.
Wiggins won the 122-mile race by 35 seconds in Stamfordham from colleagues Geraint Thomas, the defending champion, and Peter Kennaugh, the runner-up of 2008, 2009 and 2010, who finished second and third, respectively. Ian Stannard was fourth.
Wiggins, who already holds the British time-trial title, said: "Everyone wants to win this race. It means everything to me.
"I wear that time-trial jersey with absolute pride and now to go into the Tour and battle through in the British champion's jersey - it's going to be fantastic."
It will be the second straight year the British champion's white jersey with blue and white bands goes to the Tour after Thomas' triumph 12 months ago.
Team Sky had six riders in a 12-man break which dominated much of the day's racing after forming on the opening climb of the Ryals.
The third lap saw Wiggins, Thomas and Kennaugh go clear and the trio worked together to extend their advantage.
And Wiggins, who finished fourth in the 2009 Tour to equal the best finish by a Briton, broke clear on the final lap to cross the line first.
The 31-year-old Londoner added: "I bided my time and it was a flat finishing circuit. I picked my spot two or three laps out and I thought 'it's all or nothing', because I knew I wouldn't beat G (Thomas) in a sprint.
"I took my chance and I'm the fortunate one who managed to win it.
"It was a tough day today - we were hitting each other hard all day - and it hasn't really hit home yet."
Wiggins believes there is more to come after fulfilling the task set to him by Shane Sutton, the Team Sky and British Cycling coach.
The three-time Olympic champion added: "Shane Sutton said he wanted me to empty it today, win or lose.
"But I certainly could have gone another few laps - that's the form I'm in at the moment.
"That was ideal for me today. Once we actually got in the break it was like a long time-trial."
Outgoing champion Thomas praised Wiggins.
The 25-year-old from Cardiff said: "I tried to defend the jersey, but I couldn't have lost to a better guy.
"He's going to be up the front (at the Tour) going for the win.
"He's in great shape, morale's good, the team's good - we're in the best position we could be.
"Whether that's a podium or top-10 we don't know. It's all to play for."
While Wiggins enjoyed his success, Mark Cavendish had a difficult day on the road.
The 15-time Tour stage winner suffered a puncture on the first of seven lapswhich effectively put the 26-year-old sprinter out of contention.
Cavendish, from the Isle of Man, said: "I had to wait 45 seconds until the peloton arrived, for the whole peloton to go past and then for the car to get a new wheel.
"By the time I got back, they'd already gone.
"I wouldn't have said I'd have won here anyway, but to be in the break I'd have got some good racing.