Within hours of wrapping up a stellar win at the Tour Méditerranéen, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke’s (Endura Racing) team boss, Brian Smith, had a rival team manager on the phone enquiring about the possibility of signing his rider.
Tiernan-Locke had just put in the ride of his life to drop the peloton on the final climb of the race and secure the overall. Having won the opening in a similar attacking display, Smith admitted that keeping Tiernan-Locke may be a problem in the future. The rider’s contract expires at the end of this season.
“I’ve already had a call seeing if he’s available for this year and that’s from one of the best teams in the world,” Smith told Cyclingnews.
“To let him go would be difficult, but I would never stand in the way of an opportunity for a rider.”
“I have to talk to the sponsor because you’ve got to remember he’s capable of winning the Tour of Britain and that’s huge for a sponsor like Endura. These are our goals. I’m all for riders getting the best out of themselves, but there are a lot of things to talk about with contracts. I would love to keep him, but I think he’ll go to a WorldTour team in 2013.”
Tiernan-Locke was signed from Rapha at the end of last season but his performances in the Med caught most by surprise. A strong showing in last year’s Tour of Britain where he claimed a top five position and the mountains jersey illustrated his potential, but he has flourished within his short time under Smith’s tutelage.
“It was a surprise for some but not to me or the rest of the boys in the team. Last year I was doing the commentary for a lot of the Premiere Calendar events, and I could see then he would attack on climbs and ride people off his wheel. He’d get away and just not know what to do but nobody could live with him at a British level.”
“All we’ve done at Endura is focus his training a bit more and teach him race craft.”
On the final climb, Tiernan-Locke combined craft with good old fashioned brawn as he distanced Daniel Narvarro (Saxo Bank) and Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone) on the Col de Garde. It was a dramatic turn around of events for the Endura team who had made their European debut at this race three years ago, and in Smith’s words, ‘taken a kicking'.”
“This was the day, from three or four weeks ago, that we decided to focus on. That’s what the boys did and off he went.”
“John has a gift and all we’ve done at Endura is show the world what gift he’s got. He showed it last year at the Tour of Britain and he could have won that race. He’s the real deal when it comes to two of the biggest races I used to look at, Fleche and Liege. I think he’s capable of winning either of them. He’s explosive, in the Gilbert mould and those are the races he could target in the next few years.”