Broken aero bar sinks Bradley Wiggins' chances in Tour of California time trial

Former world champion Bradley Wiggins (Team WIGGINS)

Former world champion Bradley Wiggins (Team WIGGINS)

When Bradley Wiggins (Team WIGGINS) lost more than 15 minutes during the second stage of the 2016 Tour of California, it was clear he wasn't in the Golden State to try and repeat his 2014 overall win.

Wiggins said as much at the pre-race press conference, admitting that he had put on 12 kilos as he'd all but retired from road racing and was focusing on winning another Olympic gold medal on the track at the upcoming Rio Olympics. Wiggins continued to haemorrhage time throughout the week, but he came into the stage 6 Folsom time trial as one of the favourites.

On a nearly identical course in 2014, Wiggins beat Rohan Dennis by 44 seconds and Taylor Phinney by 52. His chances for a repeat performance and a little dose of redemption on Friday went for naught, however, when one of his aero bar extensions cracked when he hit a hard bump on the course.

Wiggins was just the 10th rider to start the stage, hitting out just after Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) on the 20.3km out-and-back course. When he finished, he was 1:03 behind then-leader Oscar Gatto, eventually finishing the day in 92nd place, 3:41 behind the stage winner Dennis.

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When Wiggins returned to team parking in downtown Folsom, he headed straight into the Wiggins camper and didn't stop to chat with a small gaggle of reporters that had gathered nearby. The team press officer later told reporters that Wiggins wouldn't be making any statements about the day.

But Alex Wasserman, a Tour of California associate who was driving Wiggins' follow car, provided an eye-witness account of what happened.

"On the transition over the bridge, there was a point there with some pretty bumpy sections," Wasserman said. "Brad was hitting out because it sounded like he really wanted to go for the day. He hit a really solid piece and it cracked off his extension, which the guys had modified for the day, and the modifications just didn't hold up to it.

"But he gutted it out," Wasserman said. "His head's out of the race at that point, but he rode the rest of the race on the cowhorns and just finished it off."

Broken aero bar and all, Wiggins did manage to catch Cavendish, his one-minute man, and he decided to have a little fun with the fellow British rider and track Madison partner.

"It was funny because we actually caught Cavendish and they started cat-and-mousing a little bit, which drove the comms crazy," Wasserman said. "It was funny. He finished it off without it being a downer. It's too bad because it sounded like he really wanted to do a good race here."

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Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake. He studied English and journalism at the University of Oregon and has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon, with his imaginary dog Rusty.