Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Endura Racing) has won the 2012 Tour of Britain.
The Englishman wrapped up victory on today’s eighth and final stage from Reigate to Guildford, with Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) taking the stage win to seal another day of British sporting success.
Speaking immediatley afterwards, Tiernan-Locke said the magnitude of his achievement hadn’t yet sunk in.
“It was a tough day today, tougher than we thought,” he added. “I’m more relieved than anything at the moment.”
The Devonian, who assumed the lead of the race on stage six when a tremendous effort on Caerphilly mountain brought him second place, moved to shut down a move today on the first category ascent of Barhatch Lane.
“It wasn’t a plan,” he said of his acceleration. “We wanted it to stay together for a sprint. I just had to follow a move that could have been dangerous.”
Victory on a bunch sprint brought Cavendish his third stage win at the end of today’ 147.7km trial, finishing ahead of second-placed Boy Van Poppel (UnitedHealthcare), with Fabio Sabatini (Liquigas-Cannondale) third.
The world road race champion dropped back from the wheel of final lead out man, Luke Rowe, before powering clear of his rivals up the brutal, cobbled incline in the centre of Guildford.
Cavendish said: “The atmosphere in Guildford was incredible. It was my last day in the rainbow jersey and I wanted to finish it off in style. The team were incredible. They rode really hard all day. Breaks were going everywhere, but they stayed with me to the line and I’m really happy.
The riders made their first passage through Guildford town centre after 33km, headed by a four-strong breakaway containing Team IG-Sigma Sport’s Simon Richardson.
Jeremy Hunt headed a peloton driven by Team Sky in a relaxed pursuit of the escapees, with Cavendish sat comfortably on the wheels of his teammates.
Tiernan-Locke sprang into action on Barhatch Lane, proving himself eminently strong enough to police the peloton by his own efforts.
Jack Bobridge (Orica-GreenEDGE) soloed ahead of the field with 25km to go, the Australian world pursuit champion showing a superb turn of pace to ride ahead of a peloton containing talents like 2008 Olympic road race champion, Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).
Team Sky led the pursuit of the Australian, with Endura Racing also present in numbers at the head of the bunch, protecting Tiernan-Locke’s gold jersey.
Bobridge retained a slender lead on the climb out of Godalming, dancing on the pedals as Hunt continued his seemingly endless turn on the front of the bunch. Gediminas Bagdonas (AN Post-Sean Kelly) was the first to sweep past Bobridge but was himself caught by the bunch moments later, led by Raleigh-GAC’s Liam Holohan whose own doomed attacked was rapidly shut down.
No sooner was Holohan caught than stage seven winner, Pablo Urtasan (Euskaltel-Euskadi, launched himself from the front. His effort, too, was quickly extinguished by the Sky-led peloton.
Attacks came thick and fast in the closing seven kilometres but the relentless tempo of the Team Sky-Endura Racing driven bunch dissipated every attempt.
Team Sky were in full control as the peloton tore into Guildford. Rowe hit full gas too early for Cavendish’s liking, and the world road race champion throttled back before launching his own effort, perhaps aware of the scale of the effort required on the cobbled ascent.
Tiernan-Locke’s overall victory was achieved by a margin of 18 seconds from Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) and 23 seconds from Liquigas-Cannondale’s Damiano Caruso.
Pictures by Roz Jones Cycling Photography
Tour of Britain 2012 stage eight – result
1) Mark Cavendish (GBR) – Team Sky – 3.33.05
2) Boy Van Poppel (NED) – UnitedHealthcare
3) Fabio Sabatini (ITA) – Liquigas-Cannondale
4) Russell Downing (GBR) – Endura Racing
5) Cesare Benedetti (ITA) – Team NetApp +3”
6) Yanto Barker (GBR) – Team UK Youth
7) Pieter Ghyllebert (BEL) – An Post-Sean Kelly
8) Bernard Sulzberger (AUS) – Raleigh-GAC
9) Niels Wytinck (BEL) – An Post-Sean Kelly
10) Richard Lang (AUS) – Rapha Condor
1) Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (GBR) – Endura Racing – 9.11.22
2) Nathan Haas (AUS) – Garmin-Sharp +18”
3) Damiano Caruso (ITA) – Liquigas-Cannondale +23”
4) Leigh Howard (AUS) – Orica-GreenEdge +1.02
5) Christopher Jones (USA) – UnitedHealthcare +1.12
6) Bartosz Huzarski (POL) – Team NetApp +2.01
7) David Le Lay (FRA) – Saur-Sojasun
8) Boy Van Poppel (NED) – UnitedHealthcare +2.14
9) Christian Knees (GER) – Team Sky +2.35
10) Jerome Coppel (FRA) – Saur-Sojasun +4.30