CAERPHILLY, Wales (AFP) — Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Endura Racing) rode into the overall lead in the Tour of Britain on Friday thanks to an aggressive showing in the sixth stage in Wales, won by Leopold Koenig (NetApp).
Tiernan-Locke finished second behind Koenig on the 189.8km stage from Welshpool to Caerphillyto take the leader’s gold jersey from Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge) with two stages remaining.
The 27-year-old from Plymouth, who is rumored to be joining Team Sky next year and has been named to the British team for next week’s road world championships, began the day in sixth place, 24 seconds behind Howard.
But now Tiernan-Locke, who received a six-second time bonus for placing second, has a 13-second lead over Howard going into Saturday’s seventh stage from Barnstaple to Dartmouth.
“That was always going to be the decisive day today, such a sharp climb twice,” Tiernan-Locke told British television station ITV4.
“It was a tough one. I’m relieved to get across the line with a gap still. A stage win would’ve been nice, but I had company and I got a bit of work shared. I was happy to let the stage win slip by.
“The overall is the main goal this year. We’re going to try and not let it (the gold jersey) go now.”
Tiernan-Locke says Garmin-Sharp’s Nathan Haas, who took third on Friday, is now his biggest rival in the general classification. But the Englishman added that he will aim to enhance his advantage on Saturday in a part of the country he knows well.
“It’s going to be great,” he said. “I’m counting on a lot of support there. I’m sure it’s going to be amazing.”
Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky) was a non-starter in Welshpool because of illness after an eventful fifth stage to Stoke-on-Trent for his squad, which saw Mark Cavendish relinquish the race lead to Howard.
Wiggins will now focus on recovering in time for the road world championships.
The eight-stage Tour of Britain finishes Sunday in Guildford, Surrey.