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Jon Tiernan-Locke Wins Tour Alsace
Jon Tiernan-Locke sealed overall victory in the Tour Alsace (UCI Europe Tour 2.2) today after a commanding team performance on the Queen stage.
The final stage saw the peloton cover 157km from Ribeauvillé to Ballon d'Alsace - famously the first official mountain climb in the Tour de France in 1905 - with four classified climbs on the route before finishing at the top of the the first category Ballon d'Alsace. A large break went clear early in the stage, but none of the nineteen rider posed a threat to Tiernan-Locke's 26 second overnight lead and so Endura Racing set about controlling the tempo of the bunch to keep the gap in check, whilst staying vigilant for late attacks.
The stage was won by Jonathan Fumeaux (Atlas Personal - Jakroo) who clipped clear from the break with Stian Remme (Joker - Media) and Daan Olivier (Rabobank Continental), before out-climbing them to the finish line.
Tiernan-Locke's final margin of victory was 26 seconds over Alexandr Pliuschin (Leopard - Trek) and his dominant performance was rewarded with the Points and King of the Mountains classifications.
The overall win was set up by Thursday's stage win which opened up some big time gaps in GC, but it was very pleasing to get another stage win yesterday morning and then I followed that up with solid performance in the time trial last night to keep my lead.
The guys rode incredibly well today, with Erick there all day for me and closing down all the gaps. I'm looking forward to a couple of days here in France to recover before heading to Paris-Corrèze.
Julian Winn (Sporting Director):
Very pleased for Jon as he's had a tough spell with illness and injury since the spring and it was a strong performance throughout the race from the rest of the team too. Today saw the ideal situation develop for us, with a large group away with no threats to Jon's overall lead.
The lads set about riding tempo and emptied themselves to take Jon to the bottom of the final climb, with Erick in particular doing a great job. Very pleasing to watch, a perfect team performance really.
Tiernan-Lock Tightens Grip On Race With Stage 4 Win
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.
Jon Tiernan-Locke Wins Stage Two at Tour Alsace
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.
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 gap. 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.
Click here for results from the Tour Alsace
Photo by Tour Alsace | www.touralsace.fr