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Banned ex-Sky rider Jonathan Tiernan-Locke plans return to racing in 2016

Devon cyclist says he can get back to level he was racing at in 2012 when he won Tour of Britain

Banned cyclist Jonathan Tiernan-Locke says he plans to return to racing next season – and insists he can return to the form he showed in 2012 which brought him the overall win at the Tour of Britain and a high-profile transfer to Team Sky.

The 30-year-old from Devon told the Torquay Herald Express: "I've no doubt that I can get back to the level I was riding at in 2012.

"I also believe I can make myself a more complete rider than before. If I can do the top UK Premier Calendar races and, say, UCI 2.2-level events, and pick up wins, that would be great.

"And I'd like to have a proper crack at the National Road Race Championships, where I've never done as well as I've wanted in the past."

Tiernan-Locke received a partly backdated two-year ban last July for irregularities in his athlete biological passport (ABP) which were found to be consistent with his having used a prohibited method or substance.

He insisted that the abnormal values, dating from September 2012, resulted from his being dehydrated after a night out celebrating his move to Sky with his girlfriend in Bristol in which he said he consumed 33 units of alcohol.

The claimed drinking binge took place during the week between his Tour of Britain win, when he rode for Endura Racing, and his 19th place at the 2012 UCI Road World Championships in the Netherlands.

But UK Anti-Doping’s National Anti-Doping panel rejected his defence and stripped Tiernan-Locke of both results. The rider, sacked by Team Sky, did not exercise his right to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Speaking of his planned return to the sport, Tiernan-Locke said: "Yes, I do feel I have a point to prove. But I am not an angry person, someone who carries that sort of emotion around with me.

"I did say at one point that I was never going to race again, and I am going back on that. But they say 'never say never', and the anger I felt has gone now. If I win a race, it's not like I'm going to stick two fingers up in the air at anyone."

He continues to insist he was riding clean when he won the Tour of Britain, explaining: "I know I won that Tour fair and square – I've got the photos and I still have the jersey. I know, and my Endura Racing teammates know, what we put into the race, and into others."

He revealed that he has already had approaches from teams looking to sign him, saying: "There has been a bit of interest already, but I've not really responded so far.

"It's not like I have retired – I was forced out,” he added. “I am excited about racing again, and I think I can be a better rider than I have ever been before."

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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