Despite wet weather and greasy roads, Wiggins was determined to perform in front of many friends and family on the ten-mile circuit around Knowsley Safari Park.
He was the only rider to beat the 20-minute barrier and now enjoys a 33 second in the general classification over Sky teammate Ian Stannard, who also produced an impressive stage three time trial performance for second.
"It was obvious through my commitment, even in the rain, how much I wanted this," said Wiggins, who crashed during stage two as bad weather caused havoc as the peloton crossed the Lake District.
"It's not been a great season for me but the minute I knew I was riding this race, I've been training locally and I can't tell you how many times I've been around this course because I only live about 20 minutes away.
"It's nice to put in a performance like that in front of your friends and family. I'm not a great climber so I need as much out of that time trial as possible and get every second I could if I think of winning races like that."
Defending the gold jersey will not be easy, IAM Cycling's Martin Elmiger is third overall and 47 seconds adrift, with Team Sky needing to keep the race disciplined with the toughest and ultimately decisive stages of the race to come.
Wednesday's fourth stage takes the race from England into Wales, running from Stoke-on-Trent to Llanberis, including some tough climbs in Snowdonia.
Stage three result
1 Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) 19:54
2 Ian Stannard (Team Sky) +32
3 Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp) +42
4 Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) +54
5 Alex Dowsett (Movistar) +56
- Sports & Recreation
- Ian Stannard
- Bradley Wiggins