LOS ANGELES- Former Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins clocked a storming 23min 18sec to win the time trial second stage on Monday and take the Tour of California overall lead. The British Team Sky rider knocked Garmin Sharp's early pace-setter Rohan Dennis of Australia into second place in the stage, 44 seconds adrift, with American Taylor Phinney third, 52 seconds back.
Wiggins, who followed up his 2012 Tour de France triumph with a gold medal at the London Olympics that year, seized the overall lead in the eight-stage race. The race continues on Tuesday with a 174.5 km stage three that will take the field from San Jose to a finishing climb to the summit of Mount Diablo. Wiggins averaged 51.5 km/h on the out-and-back course that took the riders past the front of Folsom Prison -- made famous by country music singer Johnny Cash.
The 34-year-old Wiggins will take a 44-second overall advantage over Dennis into the third stage, with BMC's Phinney a further eight seconds back.
"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 told TeamSky.com. "The real stuff starts tomorrow." Wiggins noted that he and his Sky teammates had trained on Mount Diablo and know what to expect. "I'm in a good position and I'm climbing well," he said. "We're used to being in this position now as a team after the last few years so we know what to do."
Dennis had set a strong early time on Monday, despite crashing the day before. Wiggins, however, was 19 seconds quicker at the intermediate en route to the winning time. Omega Pharma rider Mark Cavendish of Britain had worn the leader's yellow jersey after his narrow stage one win. He crossed the line 27th in the time trial and is 18th overall.