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Monday September 17, 2012

Tiernan-Locke eyes Tour triumph after taking big lead

LONDON: England’s Jonathan Tiernan-Locke is in pole position to win the Tour of Britain after opening up an 18-second lead following the seventh stage on Saturday.

The Endura Racing man came in eighth in the race from Barnstaple to Dartmouth but, with Australia’s Leigh Howard falling 62 seconds off the pace, Tiernan-Locke now enjoys a healthy lead over second placed Nathan Haas.

It is 19 years since Chris Lillywhite became the last Briton to win the Tour of Britain. But Tiernan-Locke, 27, is confident of changing that in the final stage on Sunday.

“I think Haas would have to take all the time bonuses and win the stage which I don’t think will happen so I can’t lose it that way,” he told the Tour of Britain website.

“I’ve just got to not lose time on the sprints so we’ll have to ride for the sprints and there will be other teams interested in that and I am not going to get dropped on the climbs.

“We showed we were up to it today and I am sure we’ll be up to it.”

Pablo Urtasun took the stage win in a sprint finish, pipping Marc de Maar, winner of stage five on Thursday, with Urtasun’s Euskaltel-Euskadi team-mate Samuel Sanchez coming in fourth behind Ivan Basso.

Howard began the day as Tiernan-Locke’s closest challenger and took three seconds out of him in the first intermediate sprint, but by the finish it was Haas who had moved into second place overall after coming in sixth.

Howard tumbled to finish fourth overall and Tiernan-Locke must only concern himself with Haas and Damiano Caruso, who is third, 23 seconds off the pace. — AFP

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