FOLSOM — Bradley Wiggins of Britain, the 2012 Tour de France winner and Olympic time trial gold medalist, powered to a 44-second victory Monday in the Stage 2 individual time trial and moved into the race lead at the Tour of California.
Wiggins (SKY), the 98th rider in the field of 128, completed the flat 12.5-mile course in 23 minutes and 18 seconds at an average speed of 32.16 mph.
Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) of Australia, who finished about one hour prior to Wiggins, was second in 24:02.
American Taylor Phinney (BMC) was third in 24:10.
Wiggins, 34, leads the eight-day race by 44 seconds over Dennis and 52 seconds over Phinney.
“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.”
Alison Powers of the United States (UnitedHealthcare) claimed the earlier 20-rider women’s time trial, held on the same course, in 27:40.
Mark Cavendish of Britain (Omega Pharma Quick-Step), who held the first-day lead after his sprint win in Stage 1, finished 27th in Stage 2.
Phinney, who was a co-favorite in the stage, fell behind quickly at the halfway time check and couldn’t make up time.
“I thought I could have done better, but I’m not really a hot weather rider,” Phinney said. “But I did the best as I could and that’s what it is all about. So I have to be satisfied.”
Wiggins hadn’t ridden in the Tour of California since 2008. But instead of racing in the Tour of Italy, Wiggins had focused on the event in the preparation for the Tour de France.
“It was a really fast course,” Wiggins said. “I take it one day at a time. It will be a tough day (Tuesday) in the heat.”
Temperatures reached the mid-80s in Stage 2, but the heat is expected to increase Tuesday in Stage 3 which concludes with a mountaintop finish on Mt. Diablo.
“I’ll keep drinking water and I am used to the heat. But there’s only so much the human body can take.”
The eight-day race continues Tuesday with the 108.5-mile San Jose to Mt. Diablo road race.