Tour of Britain: Bradley Wiggins says title chances all-but over
Sir Bradley Wiggins says his hopes of defending his Tour of Britain title are all but over after Michal Kwiatkowski won stage four to take the race lead.
Poland's Kwiatkowski won a sprint finish in Bristol to claim a time bonus and take the yellow jersey by three seconds from Edoardo Zardini.
Wiggins finished six seconds behind Kwiatkowski and said: "I'm up there but on paper first place has gone now.
"I can't see myself getting 27 seconds back but the podium's 12 seconds away."
There are five stages left in the race, including an 8.8km time trial in London on Sunday where Britain's Olympic champion in the discipline could claw back some of the time he has lost.
Wiggins added on ITV.com: "Kwiatkowski only has to have a puncture in the time trial. I wouldn't say the General Classification is over because finishing up there as the defending champion is important."
Kwiatkowski, boosted by a 10-second time bonus for winning the stage, leads the overall standings by three seconds from stage three winner Zardini of Bardiani CSF.
The Pole, who rides for the same Omega Pharma - Quick-Step team as Mark Cavendish, beat Holland's Albert Timmer (Giant-Shimano), who had been prominent throughout the stage, and Belgium's Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing).
Ireland's Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) sits fourth overall, 14 seconds adrift ahead of Thursday's fifth stage in Devon.
Wiggins finished in the bunch behind Team Sky colleague Ben Swift, who was six seconds behind Kwiatkowski in seventh.
|What will happen on stage five?|
|"The third of three hard days in the saddle. The big climb of the day up Haytor is midway through the stage so I don't think it will be a decisive factor in who will win. I also don't think it will be a stage for the pure sprinters - a stinging climb 2km from the finish will see to that. It is an ideal springboard for an attack and because it's downhill to the finish, if you can get to the top in a good position, you are in with a good chance of a stage win."Read Ben Swift's guide to all nine stages|
Fellow Briton Alex Dowsett (Movistar) was in the day's six-man break, but a double puncture saw him fall back to the peloton.
The key action came inside the final 3km when Timmer, who had been in the day's break alongside Dowsett, tried to accelerate up Bridge Valley Road following the peloton's passage through the Avon Gorge.
First Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp) bridged the gap to Timmer and it appeared the two would contend for the stage win, but it was Kwiatkowski who came through in the sprint finish.
Stage 4 result:
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step)4hrs 19mins 9secs
2. Albert Timmer (Ned/Giant)
3. Dylan Teuns (Bel/BMC)
4. Jack Bauer (Nzl/Garmin-Sharp)
5. Jon Izagirre Insausti (Spa/Movistar)
6. Nicolas Roche (Irl/Tinkoff-Saxo)
7. Ben Swift (GB/Team Sky) +6secs
8. Rick Zabel (Ger/BMC)
9. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita/Bardiani)
10. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra/IAM)
Overall classification after stage 4:
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) 15hrs 49mins 33secs
2. Edoardo Zardini (Ita/Bardiani) +3secs
3. Dylan Teuns (Bel/BMC) +14secs
4. Nicolas Roche (Irl/Tinkoff-Saxo)
5. Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa/Movistar) +23secs
6. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Team Sky) +27secs
7. David Lopez Garcia (Spa/Team Sky)
8. Leopold Konig (Cze/NetApp-Endura) +29secs
9. Sebastian Reichenbach (Swi/IAM)
10. Giovanni Visconti (Ita/Movistar)