Bradley Wiggins' Dominant Time Trial Makes Him Clear Tour of Britain Favorite

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2013

KNOWSLEY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17:  Sir Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain and SKY Procycling celebrates taking the race leaders gold jersey after winning stage three of the Tour of Britain, a 16km individual time trial in Knowsley Safari Park, on September 17, 2013 in Knowsley, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Bradley Wiggins is trying to salvage what's developed into a very frustrating season.

One year after winning the Tour de France and Olympic gold, the English star is finally starting to showcase that type of form again in the 2013 Tour of Britain.

Wiggins won Stage 3, an individual time trial, in impressive fashion. He beat every fellow contender in the field by more than 30 seconds, which was good enough to take over the general classification lead with five stages to go.

The BBC passed along comments from "Wiggo," who was clearly willing to push himself to the limit in order to capture the stage.

"The wet conditions were not ideal for me but I thought I'd rather end up in hospital than be beaten," said Wiggins.

"I really wanted to do well in this race so it was a time trial I had to win, whatever.

"I was prepared to end up in hospital rather than lose. It went perfectly."

Wiggins entered the tour with plenty of questions to answer in a season where he was forced to withdraw from the Giro d'Italia and couldn't defend his Tour de France title due to a combination of illness and injury.

Normally, a rider of his caliber would be the clear favorite to win a smaller event like the Tour of Britain, but the 33-year-old star had to prove he was back to full strength first.

He certainly did that in the third stage. The closest finisher was Sky Procycling teammate Ian Stannard, who was 36 seconds off the pace. That's a major deficit when you consider the entire time trial lasted around 20 minutes in total.

By crushing the field in such a convincing manner despite conditions that were far from ideal, Wiggins showed he was over the problems that plagued him earlier in the year. He once again looked like the cyclist who enjoyed unmatched success in 2012.

Now, with a sizable lead under his belt and the confidence gained from his showing in Stage 3, Wiggins has to feel good about his chances. The next four stages, which feature a combination of hills and moderate mountain climbs, will still be a test, though.

Wiggins talked about how much he's coveted this title, according to the BBC report.

"The priority was the stage win but to take the [leader's] jersey was what we planned for and everything is on track to try and win this race.

"Everyone knows we're here to win the race. I've wanted to win this race for a few years. I was in no condition last year so it's nice to be, at this time of year, in great shape and able to compete."

Only four riders are within a minute of his lead after three stages, giving him little margin for error over the remaining days. Daniel Martin, a fellow top contender, is now one minute and 38 seconds off Wiggins' pace.

So while a victory is not guaranteed, it's hard to pick against Wiggins at this point, especially after his dominant showing in Stage 3.