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Jon Tiernan-Locke Wins Opening Stage of Tour Méditerranéen
Jon Tiernan-Locke notched up Endura Racing's first win of the 2012 season with a win in the opening stage of the Tour Méditerranéen in Meyreuil, France today.
The opening stage of the 39th edition of the Tour Méditerranéen was shortened slightly to 132km as the unusually cold temperatures which have held mainland Europe in an icy grip over the past week, left the higher points of the original route covered in snow and ice.
Thomas Vaubourzeix (La Pomme Marseille) made an early escape and gained up to seven minutes on a peloton who were quite content to ride at a steady tempo for the first half of the stage, before mounting the chase in earnest.
Tiernan-Locke, best known as a climber after his King of the Mountain winning exploits at the 2011 Tour of Britain, spoiled the day for the sprinters with a well timed show of strength. Nominated as team leader for the Tour with thoughts of Sunday's fearsome queen stage on the slopes of Mt Faron in mind, a course recce on Wednesday identified that the final kilometres were anything but flat and the man from Devon made the most of the inclines to power away from the opposition as the race climbed into Meyreuil. It was a comfortable victory in the end over Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJ-Big Mat) and Sebastien Chavanel (Team Europcar), even if he wasn't sure as he crossed the line.
Jon takes the yellow jersey and a 4 second lead on Hutarovich into Friday's second stage which runs from Salon de Provence to Martigues (136km).
Rene [Mandri] rode for 10km in the wind for me towards the end and kept me in a great position as we went over the hill around 5km to the line. I dropped back a little bit on the descent, but came back towards the front. I didn't really attack, but just rode them off my wheel. I wasn't sure if I'd won, so didn't go for a big celebration!
Julian Winn,Directeur Sportif (speaking to Cycling Weekly):
The riders looked at the finish yesterday and we were confident that it wasn't going to be bunch sprint, there was a drag in the closing 3km, before it dropped down into the finish, so we knew the peloton would be split into dribs and drabs. Jon was our team leader going into the race and he took the initiative brilliantly.
Photos: Roberto Bettini | bettiniphoto.net
Click here for results from this race.