Wiggins and his teammates worked together with the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team to split the field during a section of the stage battered by cross-winds. They initially succeeded with a lead group of 22 riders going clear and building up nearly a minute on the chasing peloton. The attack was eventually nullified with Wiggins finishing 30th on the stage, safely within the lead group as Mark Cavendish won a photo finish sprint ahead of Giant-Shimano’s John Degenkolb.
In his pre-race press conference Wiggins, who is down to the same racing weight that saw him win the Tour de France in 2012, talked about his aspirations to challenge for the overall win in California. He is making his first appearance in the race since 2008, when he raced for High Road.
“We’re really happy with how the day went. The whole team rode well and stuck together to look after Bradley,” Kurt-Asle Arvesen wrote on the Team Sky website.
“We had some cross-winds at the start of the stage and then we had a lot more towards the end of the day. We had Bradley up there with Luke in the first group in the split. That was good to see and he’s clearly riding well. He also had good back-up from the team to put him in that position.
“The move could have got a bit further if there had been more co-operation but the main thing was that we came through the stage without problems and now we’ll focus everything on the TT.”
Wiggins will have the chance to fight for the stage win and an early race lead in Monday’s individual time trial, a 20.1 kilometre test in Folsom.