Tiernan-Locke closes in on first home triumph in Tour of Britain for 19 years
17:20 GMT, 15 September 2012
Devonshire's Jonathan Tiernan-Locke will take an 18-second lead into the final stage of the Tour of Britain on Sunday after extending his advantage on Saturday afternoon.
The Endura Racing man came in eighth on stage seven from Barnstaple to Dartmouth, but with Leigh Howard struggling to fall over a minute off the pace, Tiernan-Locke now enjoys a healthy lead over Nathan Haas.
It is 19 years since Londoner Chris Lillywhite won 1993's Milk Race, the last time a Briton won this event in any of its recent guises. But Tiernan-Locke, 27, is confident of changing that.
Going for glory: Jonathan Tiernan-Locke is now hot favourite to land the Tour of Britain crown on Sunday
'There are not enough time bonuses on the road, well technically there is, but I think Haas would have to take them all and win the stage which I don't think will happen so I can't lose it that way,' he told the Tour of Britain website.
'I've just got to not lose time on the sprints so we'll have to ride for the sprints and there will be other teams interested in that and I am not going to get dropped on the climbs. We showed we were up to it today and I am sure we'll be up to it.'
Pablo Urtasun took the stage win in a sprint finish, pipping Marc de Maar, winner of stage five on Thursday, with Urtasun's Euskaltel-Euskadi team-mate Samuel Sanchez coming in fourth behind Ivan Basso.
Howard began the day as Tiernan-Locke's closest challenger and took three seconds out of him in the first intermediate sprint, but by the finish it was Haas who had moved into second place overall after coming in sixth on Saturday.
Take the stage: Pablo Perez Urtasun was first across the line on the penultimate day
The stage took in two climbs over Dartmoor, and Tiernan-Locke revelled competing on home territory.
'It was fantastic today,' he said. 'What we saw over the two main climbs in Dartmoor – the crowds up there. I was trying to look out for people I knew but you couldn't, it was a wall of sound and people.
'It was amazing. I had goose-bumps riding up there, and just to be leading. Yeah, I won't forget that.'
Howard tumbled to finish fourth overall, 62 seconds behind Tiernan-Locke, who must only concern himself with Haas and Damiano Caruso, who is third, 23 seconds off the pace.
The teams now head to Reigate for Sunday's 147.7km run to the finish in Guildford.