Sir Bradley Wiggins produced a dominant performance to win the Tour of Britain time trial today and go top of the general classification.
The Team Sky rider clocked 19min 54.20sec over stage three, a rain-lashed 16km (10-mile) course that started and ended in Knowsley Safari Park.
That was enough to propel him into the leaders' gold jersey, 33 seconds overall ahead of fellow Briton and Sky team-mate Ian Stannard, who finished runner-up in 20min 26sec. The British time-trial champion Alex Dowsett was fifth, 56 seconds behind Wiggins.Wiggins will now aim to defend his lead over the next five days of racing.
The 2012 Tour de France champion has endured a difficult season, including an abandoned challenge at the Giro d'Italia, but he is now shaping up well for a tilt at the World Championships in Florence next week.
"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."
Team Sky's 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 said. "It is always difficult when you have miserable weather, but Brad has been concentrating well and he came to this race with serious intent."