Sir Bradley Wiggins produced a dominant performance to win the Tour of Britain time trial and go top of the general classification as Britain’s top cycling race came to town yesterday.
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.
It is the second time the tour has come to the borough. Last year the riders headed through St Helens before ending at Knowsley Safari Park.
And Wiggins, who lives in nearby Wigan and recently raced a cycling criterium event in Rainford, admitted he’d practised racing the 10-mile course several times over the summer months.
“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.
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.