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Is the GC Battle in California Already Over?

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Daniel McMahon / Ethan Glading

Speak with your legs. That’s something you hear a lot in cycling.

Sir Bradley Wiggins has spoken — and he was brief.

With just two of eight stages completed at the Tour of California, the race for overall victory looks to be already over. At least it certainly seems that way.

On Monday, Team Sky’s leader crushed everyone doing what he does best: winning time trials in stage races. And he didn’t just win — he won by a lot, putting huge time into his general-classification rivals around a sultry Folsom.

“I didn’t plan to have taken as much time as that but it was a great course for me and I’d prepared well for it,” Wiggins said.

On a mostly flat course, the 2012 Tour de France champion beat Rohan Dennis of Garmin-Sharp by 44 seconds and Taylor Phinney of the BMC Racing Team by 52 seconds.

Wiggins has a huge lead over his main rivals, probably one that won’t be closed. BMC’s Peter Stetina, for one, was expected to challenge Wiggins, but he had a Monday he’d like to forget, finishing a whopping 2 minutes and 30 seconds down on Wiggins.

In fact, the only clear rival to Wiggins at this point looks to be Dennis. But making up 44 seconds on Sky’s protected leader looks highly unlikely.

“It’s over!” Chris Horner of Lampre-Merida told late Monday.

Horner, the 2011 Tour of California winner, is considered by many to be one of cycling’s finest tacticians.

“It’s going to take something strange to happen — a crash, the team falling apart, or a hand from God pushing someone other than Wiggins,” Horner said.

It’s not like the race is really truly over, of course. There are tough climbs to get over, and, as they say, anything can happen in bike racing. That’s why they have the race, after all.

Yet those not in Sky jerseys must have that bad feeling in their stomachs. Wiggins is a total pro, famously meticulous in his preparation and an athlete with incomparable focus when he wants to win — as shown at the 2012 Tour. His climbing legs are good enough to keep him close to the best mountain goats in California. And Sky knows how to win a bike race. Second place in California would be a disaster at this point.

Still, it’ll be interesting to see what Dennis can do with this opportunity he’s earned for himself.

“Very nice ride by @RohanDennis today,” Garmin boss Jonathan Vaughters tweeted. “Got my mood up from suicidal to just crabby.”

Perhaps there’s still hope for Wiggins’ rivals. But if history has anything to say about it, Wiggins is likely cruising to his first big race win of the season.

As the Irish nursery rhyme goes, “I’ll tell you a story ’bout Johnny Magorey. Shall I begin it? That’s all that’s in it.”