VeloVeritas: recently took time to talk to the man from Devon who is setting the early season roads of Southern France aflame – Endura’s Jonathan Tiernan-Locke.
We spoke to him soon after took his fourth and fifth wins of the season — the second stage and the GC in the tough Tour Cycliste International Haut Var.
Congratulations, Jonathan — tell us about what you did between the Med and Haut Var, please.
“Monday was an easy day, Tuesday was a full blooded six/seven hour job but on Tuesday night I had a sore throat, didn’t sleep well and ran a fever.
“So Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I just did one hour easy coffee runs to let it get out of my system — I did, just in the nick of time!”
Is that something you think about; joining the likes of Raymond Poulidor, Sean Kelly and Laurent Jalabert on the role of honour?
“Yeah, there are some good names there — but it’s not how I think.
“I spent a couple of years in the wilderness and now that I’m serious I just want to get a contract at the highest level — I’m not really interested in lists.”
The weather was less savage for Haut Van than the Med?
“At least the temperature wasn’t in the ‘minus’!
“I think that folks use the weather as an excuse — if it’s cold you put more clothes on.
“We have good Endura clothing; I was warm in the Med and I was warm in Haut Var — all that delicate stuff does my head in; ‘I can’t race if the weather’s like this, or like that!’”
Tell us about the stage one parcours.
“It was rolling terrain, but it was ridden tempo and all day it looked like it would end in a bunch sprint – but the race manual wasn’t accurate and we’d all under estimated the finishing circuit which was actually pretty tough, so there was a split.
“There were two away and they had 40 seconds, I realised that if I let them keep that advantage the overall race was lost, so I attacked — I didn’t quite get to them but I keep the gap at five seconds.”
And stage two?
“It was up and down all day, but again it was steady, if someone had set a hard tempo then it would have split to pieces.”
You were at a disadvantage right away — with two team mates out with sickness.
“Yes, especially Rene Mandri, the work he did on stage one of the Med was instrumental in my win.
“But the guys that were there did a good job; Wilko (Ian Wilkinson) got belted but somehow he got back on and along with Ian Bibby, Rob Partridge and Scott Thwaites they did the job.
“The guys have all raised their game in support of me — they have a lot more confidence and get a lot more respect when they’re riding at the front, now that we’ve demonstrated that we can win.”
Was how the finale played out as you’d planned?
“Pretty much, the plan was to use up the team coming in to the last climb and arrive at the bottom with the break within catching distance, which we did — just!”
El Fares, who was second for Team Type 1 said that you looked as if you were ‘floating.’
“It didn’t feel like I was!
“On the second last climb I felt great but on the climb to the finish I felt like I had lead weights on the bike.”
You looked very calm, controlled in that last kilometre.
“I was pretty calm, like I said I felt good on the second last climb — coming off it we thought there were 15 K to go but the signs said there were only 10 K to go.
“I considered going solo when I saw that, but it was downhill and flat to the base of the last climb and it would have been suicide.
“I hoped nothing would get away in the crucial last five K but they did; luckily they only got to 25 seconds — but even then I only caught them in the last 200 metres.
‘We’d ridden the finish to recce it a few days earlier but I’d forgotten about the steep bit at the top — I thought if I can take it back to five seconds I can still win the GC.
“But then I saw the steep bit and El Fares parked up, I got up to him, recovered then went for it.”
In the Med you were ‘coming from behind,’ but now you’ll be a marked man?
“Yes, before the start they were interviewing some of the big names and Voeckler said that for him, I was one of the favourites.”
Was it your goal to peak so early in the season?
“I really wanted to be going well at this time, yes.
“I lost weight over the winter — I’m the lightest I’ve ever been — but haven’t lost any power.
“I wanted to go well in these two races because our programme isn’t as strong from here on.”
Have your results opened doors for the team?
“In the short term, not really because the calendar is already set — but hopefully it will help later in the year.”
If I’d said to you before the season started that you have five wins before February is out …
“I wouldn’t have believed you!
‘When I looked at the parcours for the Med I thought I could win on Mont Faron — and I also felt I could do well in the second stage of Haut Var.
“I actually won the amateur edition of Haut Var when I was 19, before I went down with illness.
‘I had to stop then and when I came back I just raced locally, I was working all the while.
“Then I saw that guys like Dan Lloyd were turning pro relatively late and I thought; ‘hang on a minute, all is not lost!’
“It’s actually been a bit annoying, folks saying that I’ve come from nowhere, I had good results before I had the illness but I think what I really showed what I was capable of in the Tour of Britain.
‘But two GC wins and three stage wins — no, I didn’t expect that.”
The rumour is that the Pro Tour teams are after you?
“That’s where I want to be, I can’t have a cycling career for ever so I have to make the most of it when I can.”
These wins must have whetted your appetite to play on an even bigger stage?
“These are the biggest races I’ve ever ridden, but I think I’ve shown that I’m tactically aware.
“These races have been a great experience, but you can’t expect to rock up to the biggest races and win — not without getting know the parcours and the guys you’re racing against.”
“We have the Tour of Murcia starting on March 3rd, that’s a two day — we’ve been told there’s a summit finish, or at least the finish is off the top of a col.
“I think there’s a time trial too.
“After Murcia we have the Coppi e Bartali on March 20th
“Between now and Spain I have to return to the UK for a funeral so I shan’t be racing next weekend.
“I’ll do some recovery rides this week, some hard training then ease off into Murcia.”
With thanks to Jonathan for his time, congratulations on a sparkling start to the season, and our best wishes for the rest of the year.
Tour Cycliste Internationale du Haut Var - Final Results
2 Julien El Fares (Fra) Team Type 1 – Sanofi 0:00:06
3 Julien Simon (Fra) Saur – Sojasun 0:00:09
4 Romain Hardy (Fra) Bretagne – Schuller 0:00:13
5 Simon Clarke (Aus) Greenedge Cycling Team 0:00:18
6 Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Saur – Sojasun 0:00:20
7 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Garmin – Barracuda 0:00:24
8 Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:28
9 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana Pro Team
10 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
11 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:00:34
12 Nairo Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:36
13 Rémi Pauriol (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:00:37
14 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin – Barracuda 0:00:41
15 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
16 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Greenedge Cycling Team 0:00:46
17 Stefan Denifl (Aut) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team 0:00:50
18 Laurent Mangel (Fra) Saur – Sojasun 0:00:52
19 Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
20 José JoaquÃn Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:54
21 David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:00:55
22 Jeremie Galland (Fra) Saur – Sojasun 0:00:57
23 Daniel Navarro (Spa) Team Saxo Bank 0:01:01
24 Dimitri Fofonov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:01:07
25 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Accent Jobs – Willems Veranda’s 0:02:16
26 Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Astana Pro Team 0:02:20
27 Wouter Mol (Ned) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team 0:02:23
28 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:29
29 Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:02:34
30 Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team 0:02:35
31 Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank 0:02:37
32 Guillaume Levarlet (Fra) Saur – Sojasun 0:02:39
33 Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Saur – Sojasun
34 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Greenedge Cycling Team
35 Leif Hoste (Bel) Accent Jobs – Willems Veranda’s
36 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 0:02:42
37 Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Astana Pro Team
38 Dimitri Le Boulch (Fra) Auber 93 0:02:46
39 Pablo Lastras (Spa) Movistar Team
40 Clément Koretzky (Fra) La Pomme Marseille 0:02:50
41 Boris Zimine (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole 0:03:05
42 Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin – Barracuda 0:03:18
43 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team 0:03:56
44 Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:04:00
45 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) BMC Racing Team
46 Julien Guay (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole 0:04:54
47 Brice Feillu (Fra) Saur – Sojasun
48 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team
49 Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) Team Type 1 – Sanofi
50 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team 0:04:58
51 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar 0:05:00
52 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Greenedge Cycling Team
53 Guillaume Bonnafond (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:05:18
54 Yohan Cauquil (Fra) La Pomme Marseille 0:05:22
55 Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Team Saxo Bank
56 Cyril Bessy (Fra) Saur – Sojasun 0:05:31
57 Guillaume Boivin (Can) Spidertech Powered By C10 0:05:35
58 Freddy Bichot (Fra) Veranda Rideau – Super U 0:05:57
59 Jacek Morajko (Pol) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team 0:06:09
60 Dimitri Champion (Fra) Bretagne – Schuller 0:06:25
61 Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Type 1 – Sanofi 0:06:49
62 Arnaud Gerard (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:06:53
63 Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar 0:07:07
64 BenoÃ®t Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:07:10
65 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:07:13
66 Julien Antomarchi (Fra) Team Type 1 – Sanofi
67 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Team Type 1 – Sanofi 0:07:17
68 Florian Guillou (Fra) Bretagne – Schuller 0:07:21
69 Robert Partridge (GBr) Endura Racing 0:07:28
70 Armindo Fonseca (Fra) Bretagne – Schuller 0:08:10
71 Leigh Howard (Aus) Greenedge Cycling Team
72 Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Team Europcar
73 Egoitz Garcia Echeguibel (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
74 John Degenkolb (Ger) Project 1T4I
75 Arnaud Labbe (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
76 Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Greenedge Cycling Team<