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Mulligan Time: Dennis Makes ATOC a Race After All

Ezra Shaw

Just when you thought it was over... [and by you, I mean me]

Garmin-Sharp's Rohan Dennis seized the moment inside the final 100 meters of today's Amgen Tour of California stage 3 to Mount Diablo and won, cutting his deficit to Bradley Wiggins of Sky in half in the process. Wiggins, in yellow after yesterday's complete domination of the time trial in Folsom, seemed just as dominant today until the final minute of the race, pacing the leaders to and past the day's break with such authority that nobody could get by. But the very last bit of the climb tipped upward significantly, and it was here where Wiggins, isolated from his team, suddenly cracked. He didn't merely yield the stage to Dennis, he lost contact with his pack-mates and slipped backward, costing himself some 20 seconds.

Provisional results have Dennis surging to within 24 seconds of the overall lead with five days of racing left, including two bona fide climbing stages, one of which has a steeper conclusion (after a pretty tame climb) at higher altitudes. Dennis' past performances and history as a track star did not suggest that he was capable of such brilliance, but at age 23 he is certainly lifting his game. So too is Lawson Craddock, riding for Giant-Shimano and also surging past Wiggins in the final meters for an impressive finish of his own. Unfortunately NetApp's Tiago Machado was equal to Craddock today and remains in front of the young Texan for the last virtual podium spot, but there is plenty of time remaining.

For his part, Wiggins is showing both sides of his becoming-storied career: the domination and the ability co let it all slip away. When Wiggins is on his best form, he can be unbeatable, literally. But once that ability to dominate disappears, he doesn't have a whole lot of other cards up his sleeve. Still, it's early and he can't be expected to have brought out his A-game in May. If nothing else, he is sending reminders across the world that when he adds a bit more to his fitness, he will may threaten anyone and everyone, teammate or no, at the Tour de France.

Current GC:

  1. Bradley Wiggins
  2. R.Dennis (GRS) +24
  3. T.Machado (TNE) +1:05
  4. L.Craddock (GIA) +1:21
  5. A.Yates (OGE) +2:10