Race leader Jon Tiernan-Locke extended his lead in the Tour Alsace (UCI 2.2) today with a win in this morning’s 85km road stage and a solid seventh place finish in this evening’s 18km individual time trial.
Tiernan-Locke used the second category climb to the finish in Markstein to jump clear from the lead group and overhaul an earlier attack from Louis Meintjes (Lotto – Belisol). By the line, Jon was able to open up a four second gap on Meintjes, who finished second, and with time bonuses was able to extend his one second overnight lead to 26 seconds over Alexandr Pliuschin (Leopard-Trek) going into the time trial.
Erick Rowsell was Endura Racing’s best placed finisher in the 17.7km individual time trial in Cernay coming home fourth, 31 seconds behind stage winner Ilnur Zakarin (Itera – Katusha). Tiernan-Locke finished in a solid seventh spot in the same time as his nearest challenger to maintain his 26 second lead.
Sunday’s final stage covers 157km from Ribeauvillé to Ballon d’Alsace taking in five categorised climbs and finishes with the 1st category climb of Ballon d’Alsace.
Third in a prologue that never counted for anything on GC and then Scott Thwaites was second in a big bunch kick (148 riders) at the end of stage 1, things are getting better and better for Endura Racing in the Tour of Alsace.
Going into the stage today, Endura Racing’s Thwaites was second overall when Jon Locke got himself first into the front split in the peloton before going clear on the second climb of the day with Zakarin (Itera Katusha) & Pliuchin (Leopard – Trek). Two more riders then joined the Locke group, Le Boulch (Auber 93) & Barguil (CC Etupes) to make five riders out front.
Photo: Joolze Dymond.
A chase group formed but they couldn’t get near the front group and the five became two as Locke and Pliuschin drew clear by almost a minute at the finish where Locke beat the Leopard Trek rider.
The time gaps behind were huge. Two riders from the break were at a minute, another at 4 minutes and Erick Rowsell of Endura Racing at 8.24. The main peloton was over 15 minutes back. Over 17 riders abandoned on the stage including Britain’s Simon Yates and Mark Christian outside the time limit.
Overall, Endura Racing have two riders in the top 10, Jon Tiernan-Locke top of the classification and Erick Rowsell in 6th. Endura Racing lead the team classification by three minutes whilst Locke is second in the Points, first in the King of the Mountains and Erick Rowsell is second in the Young riders competition.
The race has four more stages.
ENDURA RACING PRESS RELEASE
Jon Tiernan-Locke returned to winning ways today in France, with a victory in the second stage of the Tour Alsace (UCI Europe Tour 2.2) in Bischoffsheim after being a key aggressor in the break of the day before outsprinting Alexandr Pliuschin (Leopard – Trek) to the line.
After the customary flurry of activity in the opening kilometres, Jon was part of a large group who broke away in the opening 30km of the 154km stage, along with team-mates Erick Rowsell and Paul Voß.
The stage featured two first category climbs in the first half and the lead group remained largely intact on Mont St Odile at 41km, but on the lower slopes of the Steinhübel, at 55km, a lead trio formed with Tiernan-Locke, Ilnur Zakarin (Itera Katusha) and Alexandr Pliuchin (Leopard – Trek) and they quickly gained an gap with Jon taking the King of the Mountains points over the summit.
Jon Locke and Scott Thwaites, both in form in France.
The trio were joined shortly afterwards by Dimitri Le Boulch (Auber 93) and Warren Barguil (CC Etupes) and leaders quickly established a six minute lead as they hit the finishing circuits around Bischoffsheim. Zakarin was first to be dropped the group started the final lap of the 18km circuit with Le Boulch and Barguil falling back just before the 10km to go banner when Tiernan-Locke and Pliuchin turned up the pressure. As the pair headed towards the line, Tiernan-Locke unleashed an impressive sprint to take the stage in 3hrs 51m and the overall lead by 1 second from Pliuschin.
The Tour Alsace continues on Friday with a 160km stage from Beaucourt to Colmar which features three third category climbs.
Julian Winn (Sporting Director): The team did a good job today and the plan worked well. We’d looked at the results from last year’s race and knew that there was a chance that it might split up on the climbs with the potential for some big time gaps. So the aim was to get our GC riders [Jon Tiernan-Locke and Erick Rowsell] in there and both Jon and Erick made the first major move. Erick was a little unlucky as he had the legs to go when the break split again, but didn’t quite get there.
Great win for Jon, he’s had some misfortune through injury and illness recently, so it’s good to see him getting back on the top step of the podium as a reward for the work he’s put in.
Tomorrow looks slightly more straightforward, although it’s a bit longer – if it splits then the mix of teams at the top of the GC should spread the workload and if it heads for a bunch sprint we’ve got options there with Scott [Thwaites] in form.
Result Stage 2
1. TIERNAN-LOCKE Jonathan EDR 03:51:35
2. PLIUSCHIN Alexandr LET
3. BARGUIL Warren * ETU 58
4. LE BOULCH Dimitri AUB 58
5. ZAKARIN Ilnur TIK 03:53
6. ROWSELL Erick * EDR 08:24
7. HOWSON Damien * JAY 08:24
8. VEILLEUX David EUC 09:01
9. UMERBEKOV Nikita * AS2 09:08
10. SINNER Benoit CAT 10:31
19. HARRISON Samuel * GBR 15:46
34. VOSS Paul EDR 15:46
45. FERGUSON Grant * GBR 15:46
72. BIBBY Ian EDR 15:46
103. SLATER Alistair * GBR 28:14:00
128. THWAITES Scott * EDR 28:14:00
130. MCEVOY Jonathan EDR 28:14:00
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