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Wiggins risks all for home glory
Sir Bradley Wiggins begins stage four of the Tour of Britain with a handsome lead in the general classification.
Team Sky leader Wiggins was at his dominant best as he powered to victory in Tuesday's time-trial and was alone in breaking the 20-minute barrier around a rain-lashed 16km course in Knowsley.
His mark of 19 minutes 54.20 seconds was 36secs better than runner-up and team-mate Ian Stannard, who lies second overall.
Olympic champion Wiggins is now overwhelming favourite to retain the gold jersey and win the competition over the next five days of racing, going into the fourth stage from Stoke to Llanberis 37 seconds in front of Stannard and 10 more ahead of IAM Cycling's Martin Elmiger.
But while things are looking good now, 33-year-old Wiggins revealed he was ready to take plenty of risks in unforgiving weather in order to achieve his aim.
"The conditions weren't ideal for me, but I thought I'd rather end up in hospital today than be beaten, so it was 100 per cent commitment," he said.
"I had to win, whatever. I didn't flinch on the roundabouts in the wet, and fortunately the hospitals are close to where I live, so my wife could have visited me. I knew that...I was prepared to end up in hospital than lose the race. It went perfectly."
Wiggins is now feeling confident about his prospects for the next five stages and believes victory would be a significant feather in his cap following a tough season.
"I've wanted to win this race for a few years, and having done the Tour and the Vuelta for the past few years, I've never had the opportunity to do it," he said.
"I was in no condition last year to ride the race after the Tour de France and Olympics. At this time of the year it's nice to be in great shape to compete well in this race. Every year this race gets more prestigious, gets the more kudos."
Team Sky general manager Sir Dave Brailsford was impressed by Wiggins' application and believes he has positioned himself well for the remainder of the race.
"That was pretty much ideal," Brailsford told Press Association Sport.
"It is always difficult when you have challenging conditions and miserable weather. But Brad has been concentrating well and he came to this race with serious intent.
"He has applied himself fantastically. It was a short time-trial here but the time was a good one and it will please Brad.
"It bodes well for the next few days. There is a lot of hard work to do but we're in a good place and that's where we wanted to be.
"There's a lot of racing to come and we're not counting our chickens but Brad doesn't need to go on the attack now.
"He has a buffer and it is all about managing that."
Mark Cavendish, riding for Omega Pharma QuickStep, lies 26th after recording a creditable 21mins 20secs on one of his less favoured stages.