SIR Bradley Wiggins put a disappointing start to 2014 behind him as he rocketed to a crowd-pleasing victory in the National Time Trial at the Celtic Manor.
Wiggins is not expecting to be among the Team Sky riders for this year’s Tour de France and last week he suffered a heavy crash in the Tour de Suisse.
But the 2012 Tour de France winner and reigning Olympic time trial champion, who previously won the British time trial title in 2009 and 2010, was back to something like his best in Monmouthshire.
In a world-class field Wiggins was up against Wales’ own Olympic hero Geraint Thomas, Cardiff’s Luke Rowe and Scottish veteran David Millar – the 2010 Commonwealth time trial champ.
And the pre-race favourite was defending champion Alex Dowsett from Essex, who won the title in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
After weeks of soaring temperatures and blazing sun the heavens opened over the Celtic Manor to make conditions treacherous.
The riders were slipping on the greasy road surface from the start but the galaxy of stars still produced performances to wow the fans in the rain.
Wiggins was fastest at the halfway point, racing round the first of two 21km laps in 26 minutes and 29 seconds, ahead of Thomas in 27.07 and Dowsett in 27.32.
And as the rain got heavier and the skies darker over the imposing frontage of the Celtic Manor, Wiggins rocketed over the finishing line in 53 minutes and 56 seconds.
Cardiff’s Thomas was second in 55.04 and Dowsett could only manage third in 55.17.
Millar, in his final season before retirement, was forced to abandon his race on the first lap but will be fit for Sunday’s road race in the hills around Abergavenny.
He posted a message to fans on Twitter that read: “As soon as I rolled off the start ramp I realised maybe doing a TT wasn't such a good idea to help cure my wee cough. Saving it for Sunday.”
Welsh cyclist and Team Sky member Rowe finished fourth in 56.55.
Madison Genesis’ Scott Davies, the 18-year-old from Carmarthen, was earlier crowned British under-23 men’s time-trial champion ahead of fellow Welshman Owain Doull.
Emma Pooley won the British women’s time-trial championship with Elinor Barker the leading Welsh rider in fourth.