Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins asserted himself at the Amgen Tour of California Monday, winning the stage 2 time trial in Folsom.
Wiggins (Sky) set a winning mark of 23:18 on the rolling, 12.4-mile course to beat Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) by 44 seconds.
American Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) was third, at 52 seconds.
With the win, the 2012 Tour de France champion took the overall lead in the eight-day tour, which concludes Sunday in Thousand Oaks.
“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,” said Wiggins. “I’ve been here for a few weeks now and now the real stuff starts tomorrow.”
Temperatures peaked into the mid-80s Fahrenheit as the men’s peloton rolled off the start ramp Monday.
The last man to finish on the same time as stage 1 winner Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) on Sunday, Dennis started 38th. The Australian logged a fast time of 24:02 to take his place in the hot seat.
Jesse Sergent (Trek Factory Racing) and Jack Bobridge (Belkin) came close, but stopped the clock :27 and :31 slower than Dennis, respectively, with the two big favorites still to ride. Eloy Teruel (Jamis-Hagens Berman) surprised with a time of 24:26, which would hold up for fourth at the end of the day.
Wiggins rolled out of the start house 98th and set a new fast mark at the 6.2-mile intermediate time check, topping Dennis by 19 seconds. The former Tour de France champion drove across the line to set a blazing new time, upending the previous leader by 44 seconds.
In a strange turn of events, a Trek Factory Racing rider collided with Belkin’s GC captain Laurens Ten Dam beyond the finish, causing the Dutchman to fall heavily. Ten Dam rode away from the scene under his own power, but appeared shaken up following the incident.
“We’d hoped to end up in the top 20 with Laurens,” sports director Nico Verhoeven said in a press release. “Now, it looks like he’s out of the GC battle. Tomorrow, we’re facing the queen’s stage. We have to wait and see how Laurens gets through the night after his crash.”
Meanwhile, Phinney, who started 119th, rolled along, setting a time 32 seconds slower than Wiggins at the 6.2-mile check. The American failed in his bid to win a stage in the BMC team’s home state, falling to third by the line.
“It was ok. It wasn’t my best ride,” said Phinney. “I think Wiggins was in a different category.”
The Amgen Tour continues Tuesday with the 108-mile third stage, from San Jose to the hors categorie summit finish atop Mount Diablo.
“We’ve checked tomorrow’s stage out so we know it,” said Wiggins. “I’m in a good position and I’m climbing well. We’re used to being in this position now as a team after the last few years so we know what to do. It’s going to be quite a long week for the boys and it’s going to get a lot hotter these next few days. But it’s a great position to be in.”