Wiggins one stage away from Tour of California GC title.

Wiggins outside Sky bus in Pasadena.

Wiggins outside Sky bus in Pasadena.

Sir Brad is the Living Legend, according to the Tour of California race announcer.

The knighted one is now one short Thousand Oaks stage away from winning what Sky team manager David Brailsford called their second biggest goal of the season.

That puts the Tour of California ahead of the Giro d’Italia where the Sky-minus-Richie Porte squad hunts for stage wins. With the new 21st Century Fox sponsor here in California, putting on a winning show in Hollywood is a top priority.

That script is now a day away from approval as Wiggins got through another fast and blazing hot stage from a shopping mall in Valencia (really Santa Clarita) to Pasadena.

The three finishing circuits were dramatic with several attacks and an embarrassing mistake by a Continental rider for Jamis-Berman who launched his sprint on lap two and three his arms in the air with a huge grin only to learn that he was a lap too early.

Peter Sagan of Cannondale took the officially recognized victory — his 11th in California — and is now tied with Mark Cavendish at one win a piece.

It was however a thrilling finale with Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Ben King (Garmin-Sharp) making a concerted and willful attempt to be the fourth successful breakaway in California. They still had ten seconds after lap two but then the relentless chase by Cannondale nailed them back. A valiant effort.

The high speeds and attacks convinced Sky that the front of the race was the best place to be. ”With the speed we were going – you puncture then and you’re not going to get back into the race, even with a change,” said Wiggins.  ”We were wary about that. I’m just glad another day’s down and it’s down to tomorrow now.”

The all but certain victory has already shifted the conversation to the success of Wiggins’ next gaol: a spot on Sky’s Tour de France roster in support of Chris Froome. He’s said all the right things — back up Chris, team player, proud to start in England, etc etc — and while Sky is reluctant to announce a guaranteed spot, everyone knows it’s a done deal.

That will of course present the cycling media with a story to develop over the next six weeks and into the Tour: the relationship between Wiggins and Froome. The party line at Sky is they’re both professionals and they each know their roles. True enough.

However, the Tour is a pressure cooker and mental stress test. Any sign of perceived discord will be spun into a catastrophe. Something for Sky to manage and no doubt there are plans in place and conversations already had.

The Tour of California is the culmination of what might be called the Return of the King, a renaissance, a return to form and focus and motivation. If Wiggins’ autobiography was called My Time than His Time has come again.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email