Sir Bradley Wiggins produced a dominant performance to win the Tour of Britain time trial and go top of the general classification.
The Team Sky rider clocked 19 minutes 54.20 seconds over stage three - a rain-lashed 16-kilometre course that started and ended in Knowsley Safari Park.
That was enough to propel him into the gold jersey - 33 seconds ahead of fellow Briton Ian Stannard in the overall standings after his Team Sky colleague finished runner-up in 20mins 26secs.
Wiggins will now aim to defend his lead over the next five days of racing, but will feel he has laid the foundations for success.
Wiggins has endured a difficult season to date, including a failed bid at the Giro d'Italia, but he is now shaping up well for a tilt at the World Championships in Florence later this month.
"Admittedly it's not been a great season up to now for one reason or another, but I've been training right through July and I couldn't tell you how many times I've gone round this course," said the Olympic champion, who came into the stage in 12th place.
"It was nice to do a performance like that after the last two days.
"To win these races...I'm not a great climber so I had to get as much out of that time trial as possible. I had to take every second I could really."
Wiggins escaped lightly from a high-speed crash in the Lake District on Monday and was pleased with the way he attacked the course in treacherous conditions.
"It was obviously (down to) commitment on the roundabouts and in the rain. I wanted to take those roundabouts as fast as I could.
"Crashing yesterday, not flinching and getting back in there...it's not like me. I normally take my bat home."
Team Sky general manager Sir Dave Brailsford was impressed by Wiggins' application and believes the 33-year-old has positioned himself well for the remainder of the race.
"That was pretty much ideal," Brailsford told Press Association Sport.
"It is always difficult when you have challenging conditions and miserable weather.
"But Brad has been concentrating well and he came to this race with serious intent.
"He has applied himself fantastically. It was a short time-trial here but the time was a good one and it will please Brad.
"It bodes well for the next few days. There is a lot of hard work to do but we're in a good place and that's where we wanted to be.
"There's a lot of racing to come and we're not counting our chickens but Brad doesn't need to go on the attack now.
"He has a buffer and it is all about managing that."
New Zealander Jack Bauer was third in the time-trial, finishing 42 seconds short of Wiggins' mark and Mark Cavendish produced a creditable 21m 20s in one of his less favoured stages but there was slight disappointment for Movistar's Alex Dowsett.
The three-time British time-trial champion beat Wiggins at the Giro d'Italia and came in with high hopes here, only to fall well short with a time of 20m 50.
Overnight leader Gerald Ciolek of MTN Qhubeka fell off the pace after clocking 21m 45s.