Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins expects to come under attack as his rivals attempt to seize the yellow jersey from his shoulders on the way to Paris.
Wiggins (Team Sky) yesterday won the 41.5-kilometre stage nine time-trial from Arc-et-Senans to Besancon, enhancing his hold on the fabled maillot jaune with his first Tour stage success.
The 32-year-old triple Olympic gold medal winner now leads defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) by one minute 53 seconds ahead of tomorrow's 194.5km 10th stage from Macon to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine.
Wiggins' team-mate Chris Froome sits third overall, 2mins 07secs behind, with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) a further 16 seconds behind.
"We're in a dream scenario at the moment, almost two minutes ahead," Wiggins said.
"(But) I don't expect anyone at this stage of the race to say 'Sky have won it'.
"We expect this to be a s**t fight for the next two weeks. That's how we're preparing for it and that's how we're going to go out there."
Wiggins is relishing his position, but is taking nothing for granted, particularly with Evans lurking.
The Briton crashed out with a broken collarbone in the first week in 2011 and was impressed with the way the Australian won the Tour.
"I don't for one minute underestimate Cadel," Wiggins said.
"I've got huge respect for him - I know what he is capable of.
"I saw how he won last year and I expect a fight every inch of the way to Paris."
With another time-trial to come, on the Tour's penultimate stage, Wiggins does not believe he needs to go chasing more time advantages in the Alps and Pyrenees.
"In all honesty, I don't need to take any time in the mountains or take any huge risks in the next few days," he added.
"I've still got that time-trial to come in just over a week, which is longer, flatter and more suited to me.
"But you just play it day by day. You just never know in cycling.
"If there's a chance where you could take some more time, if somebody's having a bad day, or the group's splintering, maybe I'll take that, but it might be the opposite."
Wiggins had an exceptional day in the first long time-trial of a Tour which features over 100km of racing against the clock, extending his advantage over Evans by 1:43.
He was urged on down the race radio by Sean Yates, the Team Sky sports director reminding him of the sacrifices he has made - missing his children's birthdays, sleeping in the spare room in an altitude tent "like ET" - to perform.
"This is your domain, this is where you're going to make your time," Yates told Wiggins.
Wiggins, who lives in Lancashire, had goosebumps before rolling down the ramp to start the time-trial.
He said: "That is what I train for, that's what it's all about - going out in Lancashire in December in minus one, going over the Trough of Bowland and it's hail-stoning.
"Those are the moments you do this for and from the first pedal stroke I enjoyed every moment of it. It was just fantastic."
Wiggins spent today's rest day on an easy ride with his team-mates before relaxing with his wife, catching up on events at home.
He added: "My children have hardly seen me this year, but when you're in this position it's worthwhile.
"When they're older and I can say 'Dad won the Tour one day. There used to be this thing called Twitter'."
That was an example of Wiggins humour, a reference to his expletive-laden reaction on Sunday when questioned over Twitter speculation over his success.
Wiggins attributes much of his success - he has already won the Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine stage races this season - to Australian sports scientist Tim Kerrison, whose background was in swimming, Team Sky head coach Shane Sutton and his team-mates.
Wiggins added: "Shane's much more of a mentor, whereas Tim's the brains. He's changed my career, totally.
"Since that 2010 disappointment in the Tour, from that moment on, we started working together.
"Shane brought Tim in and said 'I want all the numbers and what's the requirement to win the Tour de France'.
"It took a lot of trust at the start for me to trust Tim's training methods, because he'd never worked in cycling.
"I'd go as far to say he's revolutionised training in cycling."
Wiggins was Team Sky's marquee signing for their debut season, but finished a disappointing 24th - upgraded to 23rd when Alberto Contador was stripped of the title for a doping offence - and the only surviving members from that Tour team are himself and Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen.
Wiggins believes Froome and Australian duo Michael Rogers and Richie Porte are all capable of top-10 Tour finishes, but they are prepared to sacrifice themselves for him, giving him further motivation.
Froome, who finished second in the Vuelta a Espana, one place ahead of Wiggins, is the Londoner's right-hand man.
"He's invaluable," Wiggins said.
"He's an incredible climber, he's got a great engine for time-trialling and he's going to be a big part of this jigsaw in the next couple of weeks."
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