Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Endura) moved into the overall lead of the 2012 Tour of Britain on stage six after launching an attack on the decisive climb of Caerphilly Mountain.
Tiernan-Locke escaped from the peloton on the first of two ascents of Caerphilly Mountain. His escape companion Leopold Koenig (NetApp) came around Tiernan-Locke in the final metres to take the stage win. Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) took third with stage one winner Luke Rowe (Sky) in fifth.
The action kicked off early, with a six-man move coming from Magnus Backstedt (UK Youth), Marcin Bialoblocki (Node4-Giordana), Dan Craven (IG-Sigma Sport), Pieter Ghyllebert (An Post), Graham Briggs (Raleigh-GAC) and King of the Mountains Kristian House (Rapha Condor).
The six swiftly built up a gap that reached nearly eight minutes at its height, putting 2004 Paris-Roubaix winner Backstedt into the virtual race lead for a spell. House, meanwhile, was sweeping up the day’s mountains points to solidify his position in the KoM jersey.
A split in the bunch developed in the Brecon Beacons thanks to some aggressive riding by a group of contenders assisted by a heady crosswind. Race leader Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge), Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Endura) and a trio of Garmin-Sharp riders were among 11 riders that got clear. However, the move was shut down by the bunch.
The lead group made it intact to the first of two climbs of Caerphilly Mountain, but soon fell apart on the sharp ascent leaving just House and Briggs in the lead.
Behind, Tiernan-Locke launched his attack from the remnants of the bunch, quickly bridging up to the escapees. House fell back, but Briggs stuck with Tiernan-Locke over the crest of the hill and back down into Caerphilly. By the second ascent of Caerphilly Mountain, Koenig had bridged up and Briggs dropped back leaving two riders in front.
Twenty-year-old Josh Edmondson (Great Britain) attempted to bridge up to Tiernan-Locke and Koenig, and nearly made it before the effort proved too much and he was swallowed up by the chasers and finished 13th. It was a bold move and bodes well for his performance in the forthcoming under-23 World Championship road race.
The two fast-paced ascents played havoc with the peloton, splitting it into small pieces. Howard and Boy Van Poppel (United Healthcare) found themselves on the wrong side of the main split. Both riders lost time over their rivals, with Howard relinquishing the lead to Tiernan-Locke but still hanging on to enough time to place second overall.
Bradley Wiggins (Sky) was a non-starter in Welshpool, having been forced to withdraw from the race due to an overnight stomach bug. His absence will cause disappointment among the many fans who were hoping to catch a glimpse of the Tour de France and Olympic champion on home roads over the weekend.
The stage also claimed Zak Dempster (Endura), who took a heavy fall resulting in a suspected broken collarbone.
Tour of Britain 2012, stage six: Welshpool to Caerphilly, 189.8km
1. Leopold Koenig (Cze) NetApp in 4-38-02
2. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (GBr) Endura at 2 secs
3. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 19 secs
4. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
5. Luke Rowe (GBr) Sky
6. Paul Voss (Ger) Endura
7. Christopher Jones (USA) United Healthcare
8. Simon Yates (GBr) Great Britain
9. Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) NetApp
10. Liam Holohan (GBr) Raleigh-GAC all same time
Overall classification after stage six
1. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (GBr) Endura in 25-26-57
2. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge at 13 secs
3. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 18 secs
4. Boy Van Poppel (Ned) United Healthcare at 20 secs
5. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 23 secs
6. Christopher Jones (USA) United Healthcare at 33 secs
7. Christian Knees (Ger) Sky at 1-34
8. Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) NetApp at 2-01
9. David Delay (Fra) Saur-Sojasun at 2-01
10. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur-Sojasun at 4-16
The Luke Rowe fan club
Jonathan Tiernan-Locke leads Graham Briggs
Samuel Sanchez and Ivan Basso
Leigh Howard battles to save his race lead
Leopold Koenig went on to win the stage
Tiernan-Locke in the lead
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Tour of Britain 2012: Photos
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