Bike Rides & Hikes

Britain’s Wiggins dominates time trial to take Tour of California lead

With the possible exception of his red beard, there’s no excess to Bradley Wiggins.

In time trials, Wiggins’ back is parallel to his bicycle’s frame. His head doesn’t move and his arms are tight and remain at 90-degree angles. His racing uniform defines skinsuit.

The result: Wiggins (SKY) of Great Britain is among cycling’s finest. He capitalized on his specialty Monday and assumed the race lead of the Amgen Tour of California with a dominating individual time trial Stage 2 win.

Competing in the event for the first time since 2008, Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France winner and Olympic time-trial gold medalist, completed the 12.5-mile flat and fast course in Folsom in 23 minutes and 18 seconds and at an average speed of 32.16 mph.

“I’m in really good shape,” Wiggins said. “I’m a bit ahead of where I was in 2012 for the Tour de France. “So far, so good. You have to plan your races, and so far it’s been better than I planned.”

Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) of Australia finished second, 44 seconds behind, on a windless day when temperatures reached the mid-80s.

The winner of the inaugural Tour of Alberta last year, Dennis set the early best time of 24:02 as the 37th rider on the course. He held the top spot for about an hour before Wiggins’ effort.

American Taylor Phinney was third, another eight seconds behind.

Wiggins, the 98th rider in the field of 128, leads the eight-day, estimated 720-mile event by 44 seconds over Dennis. Phinney is third overall, trailing by 52 seconds.

“I didn’t plan to have taken as much time as that, but it was a great course for me and I’d prepared well for it,” Wiggins said. “I’ve been here for a few weeks now, and now the real stuff starts tomorrow.”

Phinney was a co-favorite in the stage but fell behind early.

“I thought I could have done better, but I’m not really a hot-weather rider,” Phinney said. “It was OK. It wasn’t my best ride. I think Wiggins was in a different category.”

One hour before the start of the men’s race, American Alison Powers (UnitedHealthcare) powered to a 21-second win in the women’s 12.5-mile time trial, held on the same course as the men’s race.

Powers, 34, a multiple national titlist, claimed her sixth win of the season, finishing in 27:20.

“I like the big rollers,” said Powers, who finished second in the event the past two years and was the 19th of 20 riders on the course. “I liked the length. I perform best at races for 20 to 30 minutes, so this was just perfect. The longer ones just require more suffering.”

Compatriot Brianna Walle (Optum-Kelly Benefit), who was third Sunday in the women’s criterium, was second in the time trial in 27:41. American Tayler Wiles (Specialized-lululemon) was third in 27:45.

Britain’s Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma Quick-Step), who held the first-day lead after his sprint win in Stage 1, finished 27th.

With the exception of the final 10 starters, riders began in one-minute intervals and in reverse order of their finish in Stage 1. The final 10 starters, including Cavendish, began with two-minute gaps. The reason: to prevent drafting.

Wiggins’ talent was apparent from the start. He posted the fastest early and intermediate time splits and then accelerated.

“It was a really fast course,” Wiggins said. “I take it one day at a time. It will be a tough day tomorrow in the heat.”

Temperatures are expected to increase into the 90s today in Stage 3. The 108.5-mile road race starts in San Jose and has a mountaintop finish at Mount Diablo.

“I’ll keep drinking water and I am used to the heat,” Wiggins said. “But there’s only so much the human body can take.”

Crashes rarely occur at the finish line of time trials, but two cyclists collided about 50 yards after the line in Stage 2.

Markel Irizar (Trek) of Spain knocked down Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin) of the Netherlands. Irizar wasn’t hurt and tried to apologized. Ten Dam wasn’t receptive, remained on the ground for several minutes and finally walked away. He was shaken up, angry and suffering from road rash.

The ninth annual race concludes Sunday in Thousand Oaks.

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