Soon to turn 28, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke is something of a late arrival at the WorldTour level, but the Briton is aiming to make up for lost time at Team Sky in 2013 and is hoping to make his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a España.
"There's a possibility I may ride the Vuelta later in the season, but nothing's decided yet," Tiernan-Locke told The Herald Express. "I want to get a Grand Tour in my legs, to see how I would respond to it. It changes you as a rider, and you learn a lot about yourself."
Tiernan-Locke spent the 2012 campaign at Endura but caught Sky’s attention after the startling run of form in the early part of the season that propelled him to victory at the Tour Méditerranéen and Tour du Haut Var. He followed up by winning the Tour of Britain in September and then performed solidly at the world championships in Valkenburg.
A striking feature of the Sky team that carried Bradley Wiggins to Tour de France victory in July was the noticeably gaunt appearance of a number of its riders, and Tiernan-Locke has been requested to follow suit.
"No stone is unturned with an outfit like Sky – they look at every ounce," Tiernan-Locke said. "If they can identify any area where you can improve, you have to buy into it. I'll be working hard over Christmas – that's always a difficult time because everyone else is relaxing and tucking in – because we have a second training camp in Majorca in January, and I need to be ready for that."
Tiernan-Locke’s arrival at Sky coincides with the announcement that all riders and staff would have to sign a declaration stating that they had never been involved in doping or else leave the team.
Bobby Julich and Steven De Jongh have confessed to doping and left the coaching staff, while directeur sportif Sean Yates has retired, citing health reasons. Prior to the announcement of manager Dave Brailsford’s new policy, it was quietly announced that team Dr. Geert Leinders, formerly of Rabobank, would not continue his involvement with the team in 2013. So far, no riders have left the team due to the new policy.
In spite of the speculation that has shrouded the status of some riders and staff, and the media attention garnered by the Lance Armstrong affair, Tiernan-Locke was adamant that he was entering the WorldTour at a positive time in the fight against doping.
"It's a good time now, but it's also peace of mind for the future. You would have to be an absolute idiot to even contemplate taking anything,” he said. "The stuff that people are talking about now is going back several years.”
"I couldn't have got the results I've got so far, especially last season, if there wasn't a level playing field, so the whole drug thing hasn't really affected me.”
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