BAKERSFIELD Dave Zabriskie won the individual time trial in hot and breezy conditions Thursday to take the Tour of California overall lead with three stages left.
Zabriskie, a 33-year-old Garmin-Barracuda rider from Salt Lake City, finished the 18.4-mile flat course in 35 minutes, 59 seconds at an average speed of 30.77 mph.
Germany's Jens Voigt, racing for RadioShack-Nissan-Trek, was second in the fifth stage, 23 seconds back.
Tejay Van Garderen of Tacoma, Wash., and Garmin-Barracuda finished third to move into second overall, 34 seconds back.
"It's getting close to the time they need make a choice for the Olympic team, and I wanted to have a good performance," said Zabriskie, the six-time national time trial titlist who finished second in the 2010 Tour of California.
The United States will have only one discretionary selection for the time trial in the Summer Olympics in London.
As temperatures reached into the mid-90s for the second straight day, Zabriskie was the 81st rider in the field of 118 on the course and had to wait for about an hour to see if his time held up.
"I came out here in February and videotaped the course," Zabriskie said. "I had a few spots where I wanted to soft-pedal but maintain speed. It sounds weird, but you can do it. The turnaround was one of those spots. This was a really good course for me."
Zabriskie led the Tour de France for three days in 2005 after beating Lance Armstrong by two seconds in the opening time trial.
"It's nice to be in the leader's jersey," said Zabriskie, who has two teammates in the top 10. "Knowing what kind of riders they are, I think we are in a pretty good position."
Robert Gesink of the Netherlands was third overall, trailing by 39 seconds.
Slovakia's Peter Sagan, the Liquigas-Canondale rider who swept the first four stages, finished 52nd in the stage, nearly 31/2 minutes behind Zabriskie.
Levi Leipheimer, the Omega Pharma-Quickstep rider from Santa Rosa who won the race from 2007 through 2009, was 16th overall 1:44 back.
Chris Horner of RadioShack-Nissan and Bend, Ore., was 32nd overall, trailing Zabriskie by 2:50.