Devon rider takes opening and closing stages to join likes of Merckx, Bugno and Bettini on roll of honour

Endura Racing’s Jon Tiernan-Locke has capped a great week for twentysomething British riders by winning the overall title of the Tour Mediterranéen yesterday.

The 27-year-old rider, who joined the Scotland-based UCI Professional Coninental outfit from Rapha Condor Sharp over the close season, stormed to a solo win on a truncated 77-kilometre fourth and final stage of the race on the Col de Garde.

The planned stage finish on Mont Faron above the port city of Toulon had to be abandoned due to heavy snowfall.

In winning the stage, Tiernan Locke, who had also won the opening stage of the race on Thursday, overhauled Garmin-Barracuda’s Michael Kreder at the top of the GC, the margin of his overall victory being 27 seconds.

Afterwards, Tiernan-Locke said: “I was a bit nervous this morning, but it all went to plan today and the team did a great job keeping me in the right place to go for it at the end. We had to fight hard to keep out of trouble at the front of the bunch all day and at the bottom of the climb I was where I needed to be, so just went for it.”

Directeur Sportif Julian Winn added: “
Today's stage went perfectly to plan. Jon told us what he wanted from the team and what he could do today, but saying it and doing it are two very different things and to deliver as he did, shows remarkable ability - the mark of a champion.

“The lads turned themselves inside out to keep Jon out of trouble and to bring him into a great position for the final climb. We were a bit disappointed when we heard that Mont Faron was being cut out as that climb suits him, but he finished an amazing performance. No-one could catch him when he took off!”

Big-name riders competing in the race included former Giro d’Italia champion Stefano Garzelli, who finished fourth overall, and one-time Tour de France maillot jaune Rinaldo Nocentini of AG2R, Tour Méditerranéen winner in 2010, who finished ninth.

Further down the GC were Europcar’s Pierre Rolland, winner of the best young rider classification at last year’s Tour, and defending champion and Cofidis rider David Moncoutié, who has won the mountains jersey in the last four editions of the Vuelta.

Tiernan Locke, who comes from Devon and won the mountains classification in last September’s Tour of Britain, is the first British winner of the Tour Méditerranéen and joins a list of champions that includes Eddy Merckx, Gianni Bugno and Paolo Bettini.

Founded in 2008, Endura Racing has assembled a strong line-up for 2012 with new signings including former Team Sky rider Russ Downing, who rode in the Tour Méditerranéen, Ian Bibby and Jonny McEvoy from Motorpoint and Tiernan-Locke’s former Rapha Condor Sharp colleagues, Dean Windsor and Zak Dempster.

The team is profiled by Ian Cleverly, with pictures by Geoff Waugh, in the current issue of Rouleur.

The past seven days have seen a string of British successes on the road, with Team Sky’s Mark Cavendish winning two stages of the Tour of Qatar where Adam Blythe of BMC Racing also impressed, finishing second in the opening stage, while neo-pro Andy Fenn, riding for Omega Pharma-Quick Step, won the opening two races of the Mallorca Challenge.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.