Former Team Sky rider Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, sacked by the British WorldTour team when he was handed a two-year ban for doping, says he may race as a solo rider when his suspension expires next year.
According to the Plymouth Herald, the 30-year-old from Devon had attracted interest from teams including ONE Pro Cycling.
The team, founded by former England cricketer Matt Prior, is currently trying to secure a UCI Professional Continental licence for 2016, meaning it has among other things to fulfill ethical criteria.
Tiernan-Locke claims that despite offers from domestic teams, he is considering riding as an individual in British races next season.
He said: "I have talked to several teams and had some offers – some interesting and some that I might have considered at 21, but not now.
"There are other options. There are some very good personal sponsors prepared to help me.
"So I might do something a bit different and ride as a one-man band. I did it before, early in my career, and it worked for me then."
Once a rising star of British Cycling after overcoming a virus that had caused him to give up racing for several years in his early twenties, Tiernan-Locke’s ban resulted from irregularities in his biological passport following his move from Endura Racing to Team Sky ahead of the 2013 season.
He has always claimed that the suspicious blood values that led to his ban were due to a drinking binge in Bristol to celebrate his contract with Team Sky in the week between his victory in the 2012 Tour of Britain and being Great Britain’s protected rider at that year’s UCI Road World Championships in the Netherlands.
That defence was rejected by UK Anti-Doping’s disciplinary panel, however, and he declined to exercise his right to appeal his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
He told the Plymouth Herald: "I believe I can still get to the level I was before, but I may not be able to live the life of a full-time pro.
"I'm surprised at how little I've lost fitness-wise. I've been putting the miles in – training with a group of decent riders, lots of long rides, including a 140-miler the other day.
"The strength and the power is still there. The priority now is to lose a bit more weight.
"I don't carry much body fat, but I naturally carry muscle on my arms – places where I don't need it.
"But I know what I'm doing with weight-loss, and I know where I'll need to be in the new year."
The newspaper says Tiernan-Locke plans to ride the Totnes-Vire two-day race in Devon next spring – and at the moment, it seems he will be doing that as a solo rider.
It’s unlikely though that he will turn up at the start of that or any other race on his own with his bike on the roof rack of his car just yet.
In July, he was banned from driving for 17 months after he was found to be two and a half times over the legal limit for alcohol when police stopped him in Plymouth City Centre in the early hours of the morning of 24 April.
Was gutted when I heard this news. Met him a couple of times over the years. Great fella.
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