Bradley Wiggins kept the yellow jersey at the Tour de France

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PORRENTRUY, Switzerland -- Bradley Wiggins kept the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. Keeping his cool was another matter.

The former Olympic champion, who's aiming to be Britain's first Tour winner, unleashed a profanity-laced tirade after Sunday's eighth stage in which the race entered Switzerland.

Thibaut Pinot, at 22 the youngest competitor, was the day's winner and gave France its first stage victory this year.

Wiggins' Team Sky has controlled the Tour in a style reminiscent of Lance Armstrong's former U.S. Postal team. The Briton, however, lost his composure when asked by a reporter to comment on comparisons between the teams and "cynics who believe that you have to be doped up to win the Tour."

Wiggins, angered by the chatter on social media, let loose with an expletive-filled outburst.

"I cannot be dealing with people like that. It justifies their own bone-idleness because they can't ever imagine applying themselves to anything in their lives," he said. "And it's easy for them to sit under a pseudonym on Twitter and write that."

Wiggins is looking to move from three-time Olympic track gold-medalist to a rising star of the Tour de France. His fourth-place Tour finish in 2009 put to rest many questions about his climbing skill.

He's showed he's able to keep up with strong climbers such as Cadel Evans and Vincenzo Nibali of Italy.

Sunday's ride into the Jura range next to the Swiss Alps offered double drama: a hard last climb and a tense chase of Pinot to the finish.

Pinot burst from the pack and overtook a breakaway rider during a steep, final climb to win the 98-mile stage from Belfort in eastern France to the Swiss town of Porrentruy.

Evans of Australia was second, 26 seconds behind, but didn't gain any time on Wiggins, who was fourth.

Wiggins leads Evans by 10 seconds. Nibali is third, 16 seconds behind the leader.

Sunday's race was marred by yet another crash, bringing a high-profile withdrawal. Defending Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez of Spain pulled out 35 miles into the stage. He broke his right hand and injured his left shoulder, and could miss the London Games.

Twenty riders have dropped out so far from the 99th Tour. Of those, at least 13 gave up the three-week race following a mass pileup during Stage 6.

Today's stage returns to favorable territory for riders such as Wiggins and Evans: a time-trial. Riders will set off one by one in the 26-mile race against the clock from Arc-en-Senans to Besancon.

Evans called the upcoming ninth stage "the test of truth."


First Published July 9, 2012 4:00 AM


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