Tour of Britain: Tiernan Locke clear on need to reinforce lead
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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tour of Britain: Tiernan Locke clear on need to reinforce lead

by VeloNation Press at 8:16 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Britain
 
Major battle brewing in close-fought race

Jon Tiernan LockeHolding a slender 13 second lead over Leigh Howard (Orica GreenEdge) and 18 on Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp), Tour of Britain race leader Jonathan Tiernan Locke is clear on what he needs to do today: once again light up the race in the finale, explode the peloton and put time into his rivals.

“It is pretty slim,” he said of his race lead yesterday, only learning about the time gaps during the post-stage TV interview. “I’ll need some more because of the time bonuses on the road. Tomorrow is another day with a hard finish so I just got to attack the finish again.”

Stage two winner and previous race leader Leigh Howard is Tiernan Locke’s closest rival but he believes that Haas is the most dangerous competitor. “He has been riding really strongly, we saw that again yesterday and today I had to dig really deep to get rid of him and work hard to stay away,” he said. “I think he is the guy I have most got to worry about.”

Today’s stage includes two category one climbs en route to the finish, Merrivale and Coffin Stone. However the latter is a full 68 kilometres from the line in Dartmouth, giving plenty of time for a regrouping. It means that two ramps inside the final twelve kilometres are where the decisive action could happen.

While those ascents are both uncategorised, Endura Racing manager Brian Smith believes they will be sufficient for the explosive climber to make a difference. “The finish of today’s stage suits him with two small climbs near to the line…they are hard enough to make some time,” he told VeloNation today.

Tiernan Locke’s biggest concern is that Howard and Haas are fast sprinters, thus making it possible for them to snatch back time if things finish with a sprint to the line. He’ll consequently go all out to drop them, with extending his lead being the best possible scenario. Another possibility is that the break currently clear stays away to the finish. Smith recognises that such a scenario would soak up the time bonuses; in that case, Tiernan Locke will still try to gain time, but will have less to worry about if either or both of his rivals can hang on.

Providing he can protect or extend his lead today, he’ll be feeling upbeat about his chances of pulling off the biggest win of his life.

Whatever happens, though, it is clear his career is on the rise. His performances this year mark him out as a British Joaquim Rodriguez – an explosive, punchy climber who can open real gaps on steep ascents. He was named yesterday for selection for next week’s world road race championships and will be a dark horse to watch on the climbs in Limburg.

“Things are coming together nicely,” he said of that news. “I didn’t expect to get a World’s ride. It’s not like last year where there was a whole team dedicated towards Cav. It’s a bit more open this year but it’s an honour to get selected and hopefully do it justice.”

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