Jonathan Tiernan-Locke wins the Tour of Britain 2012

Cavendish sprints to final stage victory

This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.

Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Endura Racing) held onto his gold jersey to become the first British rider to win the Tour of Britain, when the race finished in Guildford. Second place overall went to Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) with Damiano Caruso (Liquigas Cannondale) taking third.

The final stage was won by Mark Cavendish (Sky Pro Cycling) in an uphill, cobbled sprint, to give him three wins from the eight-day race. Boy Van Poppel (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) was second on the stage with Fabio Sabatini (Liquigas Cannondale) taking third.

The overall victory by 27-year-old Tiernan-Locke makes him the first home rider to win the national tour since Scotsman Robert Millar won the Kellogs Tour (of Britain) in 1989. Although Max Sciandri won the race in 1992, he was still riding with an Italian licence. So, how did Jonathan Tiernan-Locke feel as the overall winner? "Feeling a bit drunk, think I've got about half a bottle of champagne down me. I am relieved to not have thrown it away at the last minute and finish it off. Just fantastic."

Although the rider from Plymouth in Devon looked comfortable all day, he was duly cautious going into the stage. "We wanted to ride for a bunch sprint and there was one dangerous moment on the steep climb and I had to go with the move. When you're expecting an easier day and for something like that to go it was a bit stressful. For Cav to win added some value to the stage."

JTL, as he is known, went on, "I didn't try and go away, I just followed a move. NetApp did a full-on lead out with all the guys peeling off until it was just one rider who attacked and I didn't want to give him any freedom, even though it was just two minutes ... principle really. I wanted it to be a bunch sprint."

Cav brings it home in the rainbow stripes

Once again there were huge crowds out to watch the ninth Tour of Britain as the 148-kilometre stage went from Reigate to Guildford in the county of Surrey, on a twisting, turning parcours. A four-rider break went early in the race which was made up of: Simon Richardson (Team IG-Sigma Sport), Jack Bobridge (Orica-GreenEdge), Wesley Kreder (Vacansoleil DCM), and Peter Williams (Node4-Giordana Racing). Peter Williams, who has been active all week, confirmed his sprint classification by winning all of the day's three intermediate sprints.

There was then a shake-up when the American Team NetApp came to the front, and began to set a very high tempo which not only reeled in the breakaway but also saw the bunch splinter, temporarily, as they continued to the summit of Barhatch Lane, the final categorised climb of the day. On the descent Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel Euskadi), Liam Holohan (Raleigh-GAC) and the tenacious Australian Bobridge went clear. Bobridge attacked once again when the remnants of that break had been caught.

Bobridge himself was caught with 13 kilometres to go and although yesterday's stage winner Pablo Urtasun (Euskaltel Euskadi) tried to go clear, the bunch was all back together with six kilometres remaining.

As the race headed up the steep, cobbled climb into the centre of Guildford, the Sky team once again gave Mark Cavendish the perfect lead out and he took the sprint ahead of Boy Van Poppel. After the stage Cavendish said, "I really wanted to win here in Guilford. I haven't obviously got great memories of the results here from the Olympics but I've got great memories of the crowds here from the Olympics so I wanted to win here on the last stage in Guilford."

Cavendish said. "It wasn't an easy finish. It wasn't just the last stage in the Tour of Britain; it was the last race for me in the rainbow jersey. The team were incredible, they supported me the whole day; the guys stayed in control and they gave it everything they had - so proud of them. It's the first British win for the yellow jersey, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke's done a great job."

Apart from the leader's jersey, the other three up for grabs were unchanged from the start of the stage: the points classification was won by Boy Van Poppel; the king of the mountains classification was won by Kristian House (Rapha Condor); Peter Williams (Node4-Giordana Racing) topped the sprints classification.

Asked at the press conference if this was the biggest win of his career Tiernan-Locke said, "It's well clear of the others, right at the top for sure. Not just because it's the Tour of Britain but because of all the crowds and support it's just been on another level."

The winner of the ninth Tour of Britain was also full of praise for his teammates. "They were unbelievable. You've seen how professionally we've ridden here all week. They haven't feared reputations, we've just taken it up from stage one when we rode. People may have questioned why we were doing it but we got rid of some GC contenders on that day and each day we’ve taken our opportunity and by the end we only had a handful of guys to worry about."

After such strong riding during the past eight days what would Tiernan-Locke's role be in the Great Britain team for next Sunday's world championships in Valkenburg? "Like I said I don't know what my role will be, I am sure it will be discussed next week. After a few days rest from this because I am tired, hopefully I will be able to do a good job."

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