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Tour of Britain Finale
Photography by Steve Davidson
The Tour of Britain concluded with two fantastic stages around the nation’s capital, both of which provided worthy British winners in what was generally agreed to be the best ever edition of the race.
In the morning’s individual time trial Alex Dowsett salvaged some pride for Team Sky, winning ahead of overall race leader Lars Boom with a stunning ride in perfect sunshine. The last stage, a 90km circuit race in the afternoon, was taken out in textbook style by Mark Cavendish, who won an impressive bunch sprint outside Downing Street as the predicted rain finally began to fall.
Rapha Condor Sharp went out of this Tour of Britain in a blaze of glory, with Jon Tiernan-Locke riding a brilliant time trial to move up into sixth place in the GC, and Kristian House attacking from the start of the afternoon’s stage in a great display of aggressive racing.
The team had gone into the final day of the eight-day race in the knowledge that Tiernan-Locke had done enough to win the Skoda King of the Mountains jersey, but understanding there were still kilometres to be raced and a job to be done.
Talking about his ride Tiernan-Locke commented: “I’m not really a time triallist and this was a bit of a testing course, so I knew I was going to have to do something special to get a good G.C. place. It’s funny because the Mountains jersey was already a huge success but I wanted to get a good G.C. to prove I can last the distance in this kind of race. I’m going well and I gave it everything.”
The only scare for Rapha Condor Sharp came with two laps to go, when Tiernan-Locke punctured and had to chase hard to return to the speeding peloton, which was by then in full flight behind the break.
“I was a bit worried when I punctured because all of a sudden you can see all your hard work going to nothing. But I stayed calm, got a quick change and before I knew it was back in the bunch. If it had come any later I might have been in trouble but we were ready for anything here. I’m glad it’s done now, I feel like I’ve really done something in this race.”
Tiernan-Locke may have finished as the best-placed British rider overall but on the day it was House who won the plaudits of the massive London crowd, bridging across to the lone leader after half a lap and staying out front until the final three kilometres. After the stage House said: “We’ve already had a great tour here but I wasn’t interested in resting on our laurels. The crowd was so big and for our team it was pretty much a home game, so I went out there and gave it everything. In the end, we didn’t have enough to make it but these are some of the best teams in the world at making sure it finishes in a sprint. It was amazing out there and I was very proud to be part of this.”
The Tour of Britain was the last race of 2011 for the Rapha Condor Sharp team and the icing on the cake of a very successful season that saw the team take 44 victories at home and abroad.
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