American Christian Vande Velde claimed dominance to the rest of the field, winning the individual time trial in Branson Wednesday at the Tour of Missouri.

Vande Velde, who finished an impressive 5th at this year's Tour de France, finished the 18-mile race against the clock in 39 minutes and 51 seconds.

"The win was actually a bit of a surprise," said Vande Velde, who recently fell off form at the Olympics less than a month ago, finishing 17th there. "This reinvigorates me, honestly. This was a big challenge. And, to beat the guy who won three world championships is big."

Australian Michael Rogers, a three time world champion in the time trial, finished second in 40:12, followed by Canadian Svein Tuft. Rogers finished 6th and Tuft 7th at last month's Olympics in the Time Trial.

According to Vande Velde, the time trial around the hills of the resort town of Branson was one of the toughest he'd ever rode.

"This was a pivotal stage of this race," Vande Velde said. "This is a very good field. To win this race would be great for me and my sponsor (Garmin) who is right over there in Kansas."

Since his high Tour de France finish, Vande Velde (once a teammate of Lance Armstrong) says that he gets recognized and is no longer a relative unknown. He furthered that cause by taking over the leader's jersey of America's second biggest bike race by 21 seconds over Rogers.

Time trial podium (l-r): Svein Tuft (Symmetrics), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Chipotle), Michael Rodgers (Columbia)

Thursday's stage routes 105 miles from Lebanon to Rolla in Central Missouri. To honor the military, the race will route through Fort Leonard Wood.

All photos copyright Lyne Lamoureux