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Wiggins concedes Tour of Britain defense almost over

Bradley Wiggins, the defending Tour of Britain champion, admits he may not be able to beat Kwiatkowski with four stages remaining

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LONDON — Bradley Wiggins (Sky) accepted that his Tour of Britain title defense was nearly at an end after Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) secured the overall lead with a dramatic stage win on Wednesday.

Kwiatkowski won the sprint for the line at the end of the 184.6-kilometer stage from Worcester in the English Midlands to Bristol on the southwest coast to take the leader’s yellow jersey.

Albert Timmer (Giant-Shimano) took second place in the stage, with Belgium’s Dylan Teuns (BMC) third.

The time bonus which accompanied the win saw Kwiatkowski move three seconds ahead of Italy’s Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani) in the overall standings.

Team Sky’s Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France champion and 2013 Tour of Britain winner, is now 27 seconds behind in sixth place overall.

“I’m still up there, but on paper first place has gone now,” Wiggins told ITV.com. “I can’t see myself getting 27 seconds on Kwiatkowski, but the podium is only 12 seconds away.

“He only has to have a puncture in the time trial. I wouldn’t say the GC is over because finishing up there as the defending champion is important.”

The stage was decided in the final three kilometers when Timmer tried to break away before being closed down by Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp). Then, Kwiatkowski and three other riders caught them, with the Pole powering past Bauer.

The race concludes in London on Sunday.