Kiwi cyclist Patrick Bevin is wearing a leader's jersey at a major stage race for the second time this year - and this time, he might be able to keep it.

The 27-year-old has shot into the lead at the Tour of Britain after a second place finish on stage three this morning, being narrowly edged out by Julian Alaphilippe in a slight uphill sprint to the line.

While Bevin could agonise over the result - he was boxed in on the barriers and once he found room to sprint, his rapid finish was just too late - it came with a more than handy consolation prize - the green leader's jersey.

Fellow Kiwi Dion Smith continued his excellent form to claim ninth on the stage to sit 15th overall, 49 seconds behind Bevin, who leads Commonwealth Games time trial champion Cameron Meyer on a countback, after clawing back an eight second deficit with two bonus seconds at an intermediate sprint and six bonus seconds for his second place.

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"We knew it was another stage that had a really tough finish," analysed Bevin.

"These kinds of stages really drain the legs and for us, the idea was to try and get over the last KOM in a good position and try to fight for the win in the sprint. It was a really hard sprint and when we came up into the final kilometre, everyone was a little bit legless and everything happened in slow motion really. Unfortunately, I didn't quite have the legs to get over Julian but I am happy that I can now wear the leader's jersey."

Although missing out on what would have been his first stage victory in 33 months, Bevin continues a strong year, which has seen him twice finish second in individual time trials, win two team time trials - including one at the Tour de France - and now take back-to-back third and second place finishes in Britain.

Bevin also held the leader's jersey for a day at Tirreno-Adriatico earlier in March, but that was just as a placeholder, before losing it in the mountains. This time, things could be extremely different, with Bevin looming as one of the hot favourites to take the overall win.

Patrick Bevin (left) just got edged out in the sprint by Julian Alaphilippe. Photo / Getty
Patrick Bevin (left) just got edged out in the sprint by Julian Alaphilippe. Photo / Getty

It would be a remarkable accomplishment, because it won't be easy. While the race isn't a World Tour event, there are 11 World Tour teams participating, and the field is littered with classy riders. Aside from Alaphilippe, there's Tour de France fourth place finisher Primoz Roglic, while, oh yeah, Tour de France champions Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas are casually riding around as well, in support of Team Sky's big hope, Wout Poels.

However, right in amongst all of those names is Bevin, and the race suits him perfectly. There are no mountains on the schedule - it is Britain, after all - and his BMC squad are masters of the team time trial, which makes an appearance on stage five.

With tomorrow's stage looking like one for the sprinters, there is a chance that Bevin could open up a buffer if things go well in the team time trial, and then - following the style of Matej Mohoric - do everything in his will to cling on to the jersey in the final three stages.

I may be getting ahead of myself, and Bevin will surely play down his overall ambitions by pulling out the cyclist's cliche of choice - "taking it day by day."

So, sure, while it may be remiss to call him the number one favourite - Alaphilippe, Poels, Roglic and Bob Jungels will fancy their chances on stage six's uphill finish - make no mistake: Bevin is in with a legitimate chance at earning the biggest result of his cycling career.