Amid Mark Cavendish’s departure and speculation over who will lead Team Sky in this year’s Tour de France, something its fans can look forward to is Jon Tiernan-Locke’s debut at the highest level. In part 1 of a video interview with GCN's Daniel Lloyd, the 28-year-old reflects on his standout moment of 2012, plus the experiences of winning the Tour of Britain and riding the world championships as Great Britain’s protected rider.
It’s been a meteoric rise, with the Devonian, who had shown early promise with French amateur teams that led to him winning a place in the Great Britain under-23 squad, spending three years away from the sport after contracting Epstein-Barr virus in 2005, which developed into glandular fever.
Devoting himself to his studies and working part-time in a bike shop, he seemed destined to join the legions of those who could have been a pro had life gone differently. Instead, he is now riding with the world’s number one team.
Getting there has been some journey. Even when Tiernan-Locke returned to racing in 2008 after that three-year-break, fate seemed determined to thwart his plans.
That year, he was knocked off his bike by a horse while competing in a Surrey League Race, his injuries including a broken nose and collarbone. He joined Plowman Craven for 2009, only for the team to fold mid-season.
His luck changed with a move to Rapha Condor Sharp in 2010. That year, he won a stage of the FBD Insurance Ras, and a bigger win came the following year with a stage of the Vuelta Ciclista a Leon. He ended the season with the king of the mountains jersey in the Tour of Britain and fifth place overall in the race.
Already being tipped as perhaps the rider who could become the first home winner of that race since it was relaunched in 2004 – indeed, the first in nearly two decades taking its previous formats into account – it was with Endura Racing last year that Tiernan-Locke really shot to international prominence.
Back-to-back wins in the Tour Méditerranéen and the Tour du Haut Var on successive weekends in February resulted in his being courted by several ProTeams, but he immediately made it clear that he would honour his contract with Endura.
After breaking his collarbone in the Lincoln Grand Prix in May, he was back to winning ways in July when he took the overall in the Tour d’Alsace. But with rumours persisting that he was headed to Team Sky at the end of the season, it was September that set the seal on his outstanding year.
With interest in the Tour of Britain higher than ever on the back of Wiggins’ Tour de France victory and the still-fresh memories of London 2012, Tiernan-Locke rewarded Endura’s faith in him by winning the overall.
A week later, with Cavendish and Wiggins among his supporting team, he was Great Britain’s protected rider in the world championships in Limburg, where he followed an attack by Alberto Contador on the Cauberg, got into what was ultimately a doomed break but still finished 19th in by far the longest race he had ever ridden.
Both those performances bode well for his future at WorldTour level, and his thoughts on stepping up to the top flight, as well as plans for the season ahead, will be covered in the part 2 of the interview, which we will show on Friday.
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.