Sir Bradley Wiggins wins time trial to lead Tour of Britain
Olympic champion Sir Bradley Wiggins leads the Tour of Britain after winning stage three's individual time trial.
The 33-year-old powered round the 16km (10-mile) course in Knowsley, Merseyside in 19 minutes 54 seconds to beat his fellow Briton and Team Sky team-mate Ian Stannard by 36 seconds.
Stannard, 26, moves up to second overall, 37 seconds behind Wiggins.
"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."
It was a stunning performance by the London 2012 time trial champion, who is also using the Tour of Britain to prepare for next week's world time trial championship in Florence, a race which will be broadcast live on BBC2 and the BBC Sport website from 14:00 BST on Wednesday, 25 September.
After a tough year that saw him pull out of the Giro d'Italia with a chest infection, and miss out on defending his Tour de France title through illness and injury, Wiggins admitted he had been focused on producing a strong ride.
"I've been training throughout July and I can't tell you how many times I've been round this course," he said. "I only live 20km away."
Wiggins also said that while many riders opted not to practice in the morning rain, he used the session to check how quickly he could race around the roundabouts in an effort to pick up crucial seconds on main rivals Nairo Quintana and Dan Martin.
"I'm not a great climber like Dan or Quintana, so I need to do a [good] time trial and gain in areas where guys won't pay as much attention, especially when it's raining," he said.
"I had to take every second I could really.
"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."
Wiggins finished one minute 35 seconds ahead of Colombia's Quintana, runner-up to Chris Froome in this year's Tour de France, and a further seven seconds quicker than Ireland's Martin.
Overnight leader Gerald Ciolek started the stage 30 seconds ahead of Wiggins but his time of 21:45 saw him slide down the rankings.
Movistar rider Alex Dowsett, who has won the British time trial championship for the past three years and beat Wiggins to win an individual time trial stage at the Giro d'Italia earlier this year, finished fifth, 56 seconds behind Wiggins.
Stage four takes place on Wednesday, when the race returns to Stoke-on-Trent for a fifth year, with the stage starting from the city centre.
The 188.4km route takes in Shropshire and Whitchurch before moving through Wales and ending in the village of Llanberis.
The eight-stage, 1045.4kms race finishes in London on Sunday.
1 Sir Bradley Wiggins (Gbr) Sky Procycling 19mins 54secs,
2 Ian Stannard (Gbr) Sky Procycling + 0:36
3 Jack Bauer (Nzl) Garmin-Sharp + 0:42
4 Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling +0:55
5 Alex Dowsett (Gbr) Movistar Team + 0:56
1 Sir Bradley Wiggins (Gbr) Sky Procycling 11:25:54
2 Ian Stannard (Gbr) Sky Procycling + 0:37
3 Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling +0:47
4 Jack Bauer (Nzl) Garmin-Sharp +0:55
5 Alex Dowsett (Gbr) Movistar Team +0:57
25 Mark Cavendish (Gbr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step + 1:57
UCI Road World Championships men's time trial
- Tuscany, Italy
- September 22-29
- Live on BBC TV, the BBC Sport website, mobiles, tablets and Connected TVs