By Nigel Wynn
Pablo Urtasun (Euskaltel-Euskadi) won stage seven of the 2012 Tour of Britain in Dartmouth on Saturday from an escape group.
The Spaniard pipped stage five winner Marc De Maar (United Healthcare) in a sprint finish from a four-man move. Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) placed third.
Jonathan Tiernan-Locke extended his lead slightly in the overall classification after attacking the bunch in the final 10km and finishing eighth, distancing main rival Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge). Howard slips to fourth, with Australian Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) now in second place at 18 seconds.
Day out in Devon
The day didn't start in local man Tiernan-Locke's favour, with Howard grabbing a three second time bonus on the first hot spot sprint to bring down his GC time deficit to just 10 seconds.
The bunch split temporarily after the day's first classified climb, with Tiernan-Locke making the lead group. A five-rider group then escaped, comprising Ivan Basso (Liquias-Cannondale), Samuel Sanchez, Pablo Urtasun (both Euskaltel-Euskadi), Jerome Coppel (Saur-Sojasun) and stage five winner Marc De Maar (UnitedHealthcare).
After stretching out a gap of just under a minute, a further five riders bridged up to make a lead group of ten. That was the race situation across Dartmoor until the final 15km, when both the lead group and peloton upped the pace considerably.
Tiernan-Locke led an attack from the peloton in the final 10km, splintering the group to pieces. Up front, Basso, Urtasun, Sanchez and De Maar left all of their breakaway companions on the undulating run-in to Dartmouth.
Euskaltel-Euskadi duo Sanchez and Urtasun had numerical advantage, and it was the 2008 Olympic champion Sanchez that led the group into the finale where Urtasun and De Maar fought for the line, with Urtasun coming out on top.
Behind, Tiernan-Locke's group had distanced the remnants of the bunch including overall rival Howard, thereby consolidating the Endura man's position at the top of the general classification with one stage remaining.
Endura impressed all day in their control of the race, allowing the escape group to gain enough time to sweep up the bonus seconds in the intermediate sprints and final, and setting up Tiernan-Locke's final attack.
Once again, British fans turned out in force in beautiful Devon sunshine, with all of the major climbs packed with enthusiastic spectators.
Tour of Britain 2012 stage eight preview, including video, map and profile>>
Tour of Britain 2012, stage seven: Barnstaple to Dartmouth, 170.7km
1. Pablo Urtasun (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi in 4-20-31
2. Marc De Maar (Ned) United Healthcare
3. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
4. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 2 secs
5. Leopold Koenig (Cze) NetApp at 39 secs
6. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 47 secs
7. Bernard Sulzberger (Aus) Raleigh-GAC
8. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (GBr) Endura
9. Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) NetApp
10. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at same time
Overall classification after stage seven
1. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (GBr) Endura in 29-38-14
2. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 18 secs
3. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 23 secs
4. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge at 1-02
5. Christopher Jones (USA) United Healthcare at 1-12
6. Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) NetApp at 2-01
7. David Lelay (Fra) Saur-Sojasun at 2-01
8. Boy Van Poppel (Ned) United Healthcare at 2-23
9. Christian Knees (Ger) Sky at 2-26
10. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur-Sojasun at 4-21
Tiernan-Locke on South Hill
Pablo Urtasun wins
Tiernan-Locke on podium
Tour of Britain 2012: Coverage index
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Tour of Britain 2012: Reports
Stage six: Tiernan-Locke moves into lead as Koenig takes stage
Stage five: De Maar takes solo Stoke win as race takes shape
Stage four: Cavendish strikes jackpot in Blackpool
Stage three: Cavendish takes Tour of Britain stage three
Stage two: Howard edges out Cavendish to win Tour of Britain stage two
Stage one: Rowe takes Tour of Britain opener after Cavendish crashes
Tour of Britain 2012: Photos
Stage six gallery by Andy Jones
Stage five gallery by Andy Jones
Stage four gallery by Andy Jones
Stage three gallery by Andy Jones
Stage two gallery by Andy Jones
Stage one gallery by Andy Jones
Tour of Britain 2012 pre-race gallery by Andy Jones
Tour of Britain 2012: Videos
Stage one video preview
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