Brighton • Robert Britton peeled around the final corner of the Tour of Utah’s 5.5-mile uphill time trial on Wednesday and sucked in as much oxygen as he could for the final push to the ski resort at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon.

The Canadian, from Regina, Saskatchewan, streaked to the finish line in a time 18:29 to win Stage 3 and claim the yellow jersey — which he took from Rally Cycling teammate Sepp Kuss, who finished Stage 3 in a time of 19:33 — good for 17th place.

The individual time trial stage is typically regarded as a harbinger of what’s to come in the seven-day Tour of Utah. By winning both the race and the yellow jersey, Britton is confident about where he and his team stand heading into the last four stages. Simply, they like their chances.

“Absolutely,” said Britton. “This has been my objective pretty much since [the Tour of] California, one of the main objectives for the year… usually when I really focus on something I am able to see it through. With today’s ride I think we are right where we want to be.”

Tour of Utah results

Wednesday’s Stage 3

1. Robert Britton, Canada, 18:29

2. Serghei Tvetcov, Romania, 18:42

3. Gavin Mannion, USA, 18:55

4. Joseph Rosskopf, USA, 18:55

5. Giulio Ciccone, Italy, 18:59

Overall

1. Robert Britton, USA, 8:53:32

2. Gavin Mannion, USA, 8:53:58

3. Serghei Tvetcov, Romania, 8:54:00

4. Kyle Murphy, USA, 8:54:06

5. Neilson Powless, USA, 8:54:10

Thursday’s Stage 4

South Jordan-West Desert, 125 miles, 4,000 feet elevation gain.

United Healthcare’s Gavin Mannion sits in second place in overall standings, trailing Britton by 13 seconds. Next is Romanian Serghei Tvetcov, riding for Jelly Belly.

Tvetcov finished Stage 3 in second place while Mannion finished in third.

Climbing the steady incline of Big Cottonwood Canyon — which added one more challenge to an already difficult stage — all three cyclists knew that the key was pace.

Britton chose a quick pace, but still trailed Tvetcov by a second at the halfway point. Although Britton can’t pinpoint the moment he made up the time, he knew the last 1.2 miles were crucial.

“I knew I was second fastest but I didn’t know how close I was,” he said. “That last [half mile], I had to dig really deep because once you get over that last crest you don’t have a lot of space to gain time but you have potential to lose time. That last [1.2] miles I just held on and had to dig as deep as I could and I really started to watch the power meter.”

The cyclists were not permitted to use special time trial bikes that feature higher gearing and more aerodynamic wheels, tubing frames and weight, but because of the nature of this course, they did not mind.

“Having it be rode bikes only made it a lot easier,” said Britton. “I came in and peered at the course and the set up I had today is what I would have used regardless of if we were allowed clip-ons or time trial bikes. You’re going uphill the entire time…you’re only going fast for two minutes.”

Thursday’s Stage 4 in South Jordan will be nothing but speed, with two sprints in the 124 mile ride and no climbs. The start time is set for 8:55 a.m.

kandrews@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kendra__andrews