Jon Tiernan-Locke (Endura Racing) launched his widely anticipated assault on the lead of the Tour of Britain today, but the peloton, with the sole exception of stage winner, Leopold Koenig (Team NetApp), was powerless to stop him.
The Plymouth rider, enjoying the best season of his career with overall victories in the Tour of the Mediterranean and the Tour d’Haut Var, tonight leads the race by 13 seconds from Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEDGE), who had begun the stage in the gold jersey of race leader.
Tiernan-Locke’s Endura Racing squad launched a determined chase of the six-strong breakaway of Magnus Backstedt (Team UK Youth), Dan Craven (Team IG-Sigma Sport), Kristian House (Rapha Condor), Marcin Bialoblocki (Node4-Giordana), Graham Briggs (Raleigh-GAC), and Pieter Ghyllebert (AN Post-Sean Kelly), whittling down a lead that been as high as 7.50.
“The stage went almost exactly as we’d talked about this morning,” said Tiernan-Locke. “As we headed into the last part of the stage, Jonny [McEvoy] and Russ [Downing] rode hard on the front before Paul [Voß] took me right start of the climb and I took it from there.”
Briggs was the only rider able to stay with Endura’s leader on the first of two ascents of Caerphilly Mountain, but was unable to survive the ferocity of his former teammate’s assault.
Koenig, however, a rider who could be a teammate next year when Endura Racing and NetApp merge, was able to hold Tiernan-Locke’s wheel, if not to contribute to the pair’s escape. He rounded the Englishman in the closing 500 metres to win by a second, but the greater prize was claimed by Tiernan-Locke, who will surely attempt to gain more time on his GC rivals on tomorrow’s 170.7km run from Barnstaple to Dartmouth, a stern test taking in three categorised climbs.
Tiernan-Locke described the prospect of racing in front of his home crowd as “awesome”, but stressed the need to claim more time on those who, like him, harbour ambitions of overall victory.
Team Sky’s ambitions for the race, such as they were with a Tour de France victory already accomplished and riders on world championship duty next weekend, were further dented today by the abandonment of Bradley Wiggins with a stomach bug. Mark Cavendish rolled in 8.32 after Tiernan-Locke and is now 47th on GC, 19.39 down on the new race leader.
Tour of Britain stage six – result
1) Leopold Koenig (CZE) – Team NetApp – 4.38.02
2) Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (GBR) – Endura Racing +2”
3) Nathan Haas (AUS) – Garmin-Sharp +19”
4) Damiano Caruso (ITA) – Liquigas-Cannondale – ST
5) Luke Rowe (GBR) – Team Sky
6) Paul Voss (GER) Endura Racing
7) Christopher Jones (USA) – UnitedHealthcare
8) Simon Yates (GBR) – Great Britain
9) Bartosz Huzarski (POL) – Team NetApp
10) Liam Holohan (GBR) Raleigh-GAC
1) Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (GBR) – Endura Racing – 25.16.57
2) Leigh Howard (AUS) Orica-GreenEDGE +13”
3) Nathan Haas (AUS) – Garmin-Sharp +18”
4) Boy Van Poppel (NED) – UnitedHealthcare +20”
5) Damiano Caruso (ITA) – Liquigas-Cannondale +23”
6) Christopher Jones (USA) – UnitedHealthcare +33”
7) Christian Knees (GER) – Team Sky +1.34
8) Bartosz Huzarski (POL) – Team NetApp +2.01
9) David Le Lay (FRA) – Saur-Sojasun
10) Jerome Coppel (FRA) – Saur-Sojasun +4.16