TOUR OF BRITAIN: Locke faces challenge of his life
JONATHAN Tiernan-Locke faces a potentially career-changing fortnight after South Devon’s Tour of Britain hopeful was called into Britain’s squad for the World Road Race Championships this week, writes David Thomas
Locke, 27, who has just returned from an altitude training camp in Spain, believes he can force himself into cycling’s ‘Premier League’ in the ToB, which starts in Ipswich this Saturday, and then the ‘Worlds’ in Holland on September 23.
First, he must make it from GB’s 14-man ‘long list’ for the world championships into the final team of nine riders who will try to emulate Mark Cavendish’s 2011 triumph over a much hillier course around Valkenburg.
And the best argument he can make for his selection is to lay down a marker during the Tour of Britain, which hits Devon for a make-or-break stage from Barnstaple to Dartmouth on Saturday week, September 15.
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“It would be nice if I got the call for the Worlds, not because I want a GB kit, but because I think I could be competitive,” said Locke (Endura Racing), who launched his career from Kingsteignton’s Mid-Devon CC/Colin Lewis Cycles.
“Some people might laugh at it, because it’s 250K long and I haven’t been racing at those distances.
“But I’m confident that I could handle that, and I think the climbs would suit me.”
In both the ToB and the World Championship squad, Locke is rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in the sport.
And the strongest-ever Tour start-list boasts an international field now including Tour de France and Olympic Games hero Bradley Wiggins and his Sky teammate Cavendish, former Giro d’Italia winner Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale), Beijing Olympic Games champion Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel Euskadi) and crack American sprinter Tyler Farrar (Garmin Sharp).
Locke, who won the King Of The Mountains competition last year, says: “I’m definitely looking at the General Classification.
“Winning overall would be a big ask, particularly against Bradley Wiggins, and the rest of the field is stronger than last year.
“But there is no time trial this year, so whoever wants to win will have to attack and win the race on the climbs.”