Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Endura) became the first British rider to win the modern version of the Tour of Britain, defending his lead in the race perfectly in Surrey on Sunday.
Tiernan-Locke and his Endura team put in another measured performance to ensure that no other riders presented a danger to the Devon man’s occupation of the gold leader’s jersey. Tiernan-Locke’s Tour of Britain win accompanies his 2012 overall victories in the Tour of the Mediterranean, Tour du Haut Var and Tour Alsace.
Australian Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) placed second overall at 18 seconds, with Italian Damiano Caruso (Liquigas-Cannondale) at 23 seconds.
Mark Cavendish (Sky) took his third stage of the race with a sprint masterclass up the final cobbled climb in a spectator-packed Guildford centre. Points classification winner Boy Van Poppel (United Healthcare) placed second on the stage, with Fabio Sabatini (Liquigas-Cannondale) in third.
It was a fitting finale to what has been one of the most hotly-contested, entertaining and popular editions of the Tour of Britain.
British home team success in the race continued with Kristian House taking the King of the Mountains competition for Rapha Condor.
Final day defence
Tiernan-Locke started the day faced with a tough final task – to control proceedings around an undulating stage through the punchy Surrey Hills climbs.
After the peloton left the packed streets of Reigate for the day’s start, an escape group of four riders broke free - Simon Richardson (IG-Sigma Sport), Jack Bobridge (Orica-GreenEdge), Peter Williams (Node4-Giordana) and Wesley Kreder (Vacansoleil-DCM).
Unlike previous days’ breakaways, the bunch were keen to peg the lead quartet’s advantage to around two minutes. By the time the race hit the climb on Barhatch Lane the escapees’ gap rapidly tumbled as NetApp upped the pace of the bunch.
The peloton split, with Tiernan-Locke making the front group, always looking comfortable on the stinging ascent. After things settled down, Bobridge was once again in a break with Liam Holohan (Raleigh-GAC) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).
The trio were chased down by a further five riders, and as soon as the junction was made Bobridge struck out solo. By then, the peloton had regrouped complete with Mark Cavendish (Sky), enjoying his last day in the rainbow jersey ahead of next weekend’s World Championship road race.
Bobridge was left to dangle out the front of the bunch for a spell before being reeled in, triggering a flurry of attacks off the front of the peloton. None stuck, however, as Sky and Endura led the peloton back into Guildford for the finale.
As the Sky men dropped one by one off the front of the peloton, Cavendish re-positioned himself perfectly into the final cobbled climb to the line in Guildford. He opened his sprint up early and no-one else could get near his wheel as he took his third stage win of the race.
Both Cavendish and Tiernan-Locke will now travel to the Netherlands to take represent Great Britain in the 2012 Road World Championships.
Tour of Britain 2012, stage eight: Reigate to Guildford, 147.7km
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky
2. Boy Van Poppel (Ned) United Healthcare
3. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
4. Russell Downing (GBr) Endura
5. Cesare Benedetti (Ita) NetApp
6. Yanto Barker (GBr) UK Youth
7. Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) An Post Sean Kelly
8. Bernard Sulzberger (Aus) Raleigh-GAC
9. Niels Wytinck (Bel) An Post Sean Kelly
10. Richard Lang (Aus) Rapha Condor all same time
Final overall classification
1. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (GBr) Endura in 33-11-22
2. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 18 secs
3. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 23 secs
4. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge at 1-02
5. Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare at 1-12
6. Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) NetApp at 2-01
7. David Le Lay (Fra) Saur-Sojasun
8. Boy Van Poppel (Ned) UnitedHealthcare at 2-14
9. Christian Knees (Ger) Sky at 2-25
10. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur-Sojasun at 4-30
Crowds packed around the Sky bus at stage start
The bunch roll through Reigate
Jonathan Tiernan-Locke in Guildford
Mark Cavendish opens up his sprint in Guildford
Mark Cavendish wins the final stage
Jonathan Tiernan-Locke wins overall
Pete Williams wins Yodel sprints jersey
Kristian House in King of the Mountains jersey
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Stage seven: Urtasun wins stage as Tiernan-Locke extends lead
Stage six: Tiernan-Locke moves into lead as Koenig takes stage
Stage five: De Maar takes solo Stoke win as race takes shape
Stage four: Cavendish strikes jackpot in Blackpool
Stage three: Cavendish takes Tour of Britain stage three
Stage two: Howard edges out Cavendish to win Tour of Britain stage two
Stage one: Rowe takes Tour of Britain opener after Cavendish crashes
Tour of Britain 2012: Photos
Stage seven by Andy Jones
Stage six gallery by Andy Jones
Stage five gallery by Andy Jones
Stage four gallery by Andy Jones
Stage three gallery by Andy Jones
Stage two gallery by Andy Jones
Stage one gallery by Andy Jones
Tour of Britain 2012 pre-race gallery by Andy Jones