The ten mile course started and finished in Knowlsey Safari Park in Merseyside and saw the riders who went off at one minute intervals with the top ten going off at two minute intervals.
Anthony Delaplace of Sojasun set the early time of 21.56 before Team Sky's Josh Edmondson finished in 21.38.75.
The time to beat started to change hands rapidly with Iljo Keisse of Omega Pharma Quick Step (OPQ), Sam Bennett of An Post and Ouwin Doull of the Great Britain team coming home in 21.27, a second ahead of Erik Rowsell, but not as quick as Stefano Pirazzi, who finished in 21:16.71 on another wet day.
Mark Cavendish went down the ramp to big cheers as did Alex Dowsett, the British Time Trial champion and Sir Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky.
Cavendish rode well to finish in 21.20 but it was Garmin's Jack Bauer, who was being listed as having the new fastest time at 20:36.49.
Dowsett finished in 20:50.93.but he was trailing in the wake as former British Road Champion Alex Stannard finished in 20.26 and then Bradley Wiggins absolutely flew home to record the first sub twenty minutes time of the stage with a brilliant time of 19.54.20.
As rumours that Irishman Phillip Deignan had suffered a broken collarbone on the course abounded, last man down the ramp was race leader Gerald Ciolek of MTN Mhubka in the gold jersey.
However, a time of 21.45.34 meant that Wiggins had won the stage and taken a 33 second overall lead from the German.
1 WiggIns SKY 19.54:20
2 Stannard SKY second at 32"
3 Bauer GRS third at 42"
5 Dowsett MOV
Tour of Britain General Classification after Stage : 1. Bradley Wiggins (Sky); 2. Ian Stannard (Sky) +33sec; 3. Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) +47secs
Wiggins said to Eurosport: "The commitment in those roundabouts was unlike me. It has not been a great season for me. I live 20kms from here and it was nice to do a performance like that after the last two days.
"To win these races, I am not the great climber like Dan Martin and Quintana so I had to take every second I can on the time trial."
Stage Four is from Stoke On Trent to Llanberis and is 188.4kms long.