Kiwi cyclist Patrick Bevin has earned a podium finish for at the Tour of California.

The BMC Racing rider has finished second on the stage four, 34.7 kilometre individual time trial around Morgan Hill, seven seconds behind teammate Tejay van Garderen.

Van Garderen's winning time of 40 minutes, 47 seconds over the 21.6 mile course in San Jose was seven seconds clear of Bevin and good enough for the overall lead.

"Yeah, to go 1-2 is a good ride for any team," the New Zealander said, "and given this team's performance in the time trials, it's nice to get the result. And it's nice to have Tejay in the jersey, and with what's ahead we'll try to keep him in the overall lead."

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Van Garderen did not only made up his deficit on Egan Bernal, who assumed the race lead with his mountain-top win on Monday, but van Garderen put 23 seconds into the Team Sky rider with three stages to go.

"Time will tell," he said. "If I lose the race by one second, I'm going to wish I eked out another second here. But I'm ahead of any time bonuses, so as long as I stick to the wheel (of my rivals) I'll be safe in that regard, and Bernal has shown he's going uphill really well."

Van Garderen's lead should be safe on Friday's fifth stage, a flat 110-mile trek from Stockton to Elk Grove that should be decided in a sprint. But the crucial test will be the following day, when the peloton tackles a long, brutal stage that ends with a hard climb in Lake Tahoe.Bernal will no doubt attack. So will Daniel Martinez, who is just 37 seconds off the overall lead, and a host of other climbers with aspirations of snatching away van Garderen's yellow jersey.

"Tahoe is going to be a big test of the strength of the team, and I think we have one of — if not the — strongest teams here," van Garderen said.

"They'll be able to control it and when we get to the upper slopes of the climb, I'm going to have to stick to the climbers."I'm no scrub when it comes to altitude," he added, "so I think I should be able to handle that."

-AP