Tour of Britain 2012 stage 6: Tiernan-Locke takes lead

König king of Caerphilly after break succeeds

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Leopold Koenig (Team NetApp) won the Tour of Britain's queen stage in Caerphilly while his breakaway companion and stage runner-up Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Endura Racing) moved into the overall lead after a spirited ride on the taxing, 8km finishing circuit. Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) led a select 11-man chase group 19 seconds later for third place after the peloton detonated in the finale.

Getting the lead in the overall was particularly satisfying for the 27-year-old British rider for two reasons: firstly because he was selected on the same day to ride for Great Britain in the forthcoming world championships and secondly because he will be wearing the gold leader's jersey as the tomorrow's stage goes through his home county of Devon.

After the stage the rider known affectionately in the peloton as JTL said, "It did go as planned. I'd played it through in my mind, over and over last night and through the stage. Doesn't mean it was easy, we had to really fight to be up the front and there were some dangerous parts on the stage with some cross-winds but it did go as planned and it was a relief to finish it off."

Leopold koenig (netapp) wins stage 6 of the tour of britain: leopold koenig (netapp) wins stage 6 of the tour of britain
Leopold koenig (netapp) wins stage 6 of the tour of britain: leopold koenig (netapp) wins stage 6 of the tour of britain

Leopold Koenig wins the stage

Overnight leader Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge) finished 33 seconds off the pace in 16th place, dropping the Australian from first to second overall. The 8km finishing circuit featured the short but steep category one rated Caerphilly Mountain, which had to be climbed twice, and which spelled the end for the day's early six-man break which included Marcin Bialoblocki (Node 4-Giordana), Dan Craven (IG-Sigma Sport), Kristian House (Rapha Condor), Pieter Ghyllebert (An Post-Sean Kelly), Graham Briggs (Raleigh-GAC) and Magnus Backstedt (UK Youth Cycling). At one point the six leaders enjoyed nearly a seven-minute advantage, but their lead had dropped well inside one minute at the beginning of the first circuit.

The peloton disintegrated on the first ascent of Caerphilly Mountain as Tiernan-Locke jumped away from the field, rode through the break and crested the climb first. Of the six riders in the escape group only Briggs was able to hold Tiernan-Locke's wheel.

The Raleigh-GAC rider, however, couldn't keep pace for long and was replaced at the head of affairs by König who bridged from the field. The duo would hold off the chase group on the final circuit with König winning the stage and Tiernan-Locke earning the leader's gold jersey for their efforts.

Koenig, from Czech Republic, who finished fifth overall in last year's Tour of Britain was clearly pleased with his victory as he answered questions in the press conference, coming as it did towards the end of a difficult year due to injury and said, "I set out for a stage win target. I knew before that I only had to follow Jon (Tiernan-Locke) because he's strong and it's his home race and he was pretty motivated so I just did it."

The 24-year-old NetApp rider continued, "The first climb I actually missed him because he was so strong and I couldn't follow him so after the first climb there was a group of about 10 riders. I attacked from the group and came to join them. Then we worked together until the last climb and then he was really strong and I just kept the wheel and after the climb I just made one or two pulls because I told him I am not here for the GC, I lost already in the first stage and I definitely wanted to win so that was all."

Tiernan-Locke might have narrowly missed out on the stage six win but he is now a strong favourite for tomorrow's penultimate and decisive stage so the Endura rider must be wondering if he can become the first British winner in the nine-year history of the Tour of Britain. "There's only two chances, in my mind, in this race to gain time on GC and tomorrow is certainly one of them but you can't waste one today so today was the first day and I thought I've got another one tomorrow depending how today went."

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