AMERICAN Steve Hegg lived up to his reputation as a sprint specialist by taking a three-second lead in the Tour of China prologue held within the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club compound in Sha Tin yesterday. Hegg of team USPro won the 4.12 kilometres time trial in five minutes and 2.141 seconds to wear the race leader's yellow jersey for the first time since turning professional 10 years ago. The Californian was more than three seconds faster than second-placed Mapie-GB's Italian ace Daniele Nardello, who clocked 5:05.824. 'I was only hoping for a top five finish and I'm surprised that I'm wearing the yellow jersey now,' said 1984 Los Angeles Olympics pursuit champion Hegg. 'It's an honour to have the jersey and it's something I've always wanted. It's sort of a small goal at this stage of my career. 'My bigger goal is next year's Olympic Games although I haven't decided on which event. And then there's two more goals left - a World Championships jersey and to ride in the Tour de France.' The 31-year-old from Dana Point was one of the early starters in the 105-strong field and the best time before him was posted by American amateur Greg Randolph, who stopped the watch at 5:09.539. Randolph's time survived the challenges of pre-race favourites Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, Mike McCarthy and Max Sciandri until Italy's Nardello came home in 5:05.824 to take second place overall. American riders filled the next three positions with Saturn's Norm Alvis third in 5:09.311, Randolph holding on for fourth place and Tyler Hamilton of US Postal Service clocking 5:11.215 for fifth. 'It's the end of my season but my form is still very good,' said Nardello, the silver medallist at the World Cup in Italy on Sunday. 'I'm very happy to be up with the leader and I'm quite confident [of winning the Tour] if there is no accident. Even a small thing like a flat tyre would be critical because the overall times will be very tight.' Kazakhstan's Andrei Mizurov is sixth, and completing the top 10 are Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov (Novell); Italian Andrea Chiurato (Mapie-GB); Frenchman Philippe Gaumont (Castorama) and American Andy Bishop (USPro). Italy's two-time world road champion Gianni Bugno was a big disappointment, finishing in 79th position more than 36 seconds behind Hegg. Other major flops were Abdoujaparov, the 'Uzbek Express', in 50th place; Italy's Davide Cassani in 68th; Belgium's Jo Planckaert in 83rd; and Britain's Sciandri in 87th. Wong Kam-po, the only Hong Kong rider to qualify for next year's Olympic Games, finished in 5:32.029, less than 30 seconds off the pace. The 22-year-old Asian Championship bronze medallist placed 59th overall and 11th amongst the amateurs, beating all the German and Chinese internationals. Said coach Shen Jinkang: 'I'm very happy with Wong Kam-po's performance, but this tour is only a learning experience for him. 'He should benefit from competing with these top professionals, especially in the road races when he will be riding shoulder to shoulder with them.' The Tour crosses the border to Shenzhen today for the 55-kilometre first stage from the city centre to the Mission Hills Golf Club. It will then continue in Guangzhou tomorrow and finish with two stops each in Shanghai and Beijing.