Jonathan Tiernan-Locke – a punchy climber and could he ride the Classics?
Britain has produced a ridiculous number of top cyclists in recent years. The track cyclists are untouchable and we’ve most bases covered on the road. We’ve Bradley Wiggins, time trialist and Tour de France winner; Chris Froome, climber and time trialist; and Mark Cavendish, the supreme sprinter of his era.
But if there’s one thing we’re missing, it’s a punchy climber. Froome and Wiggins like long climbs and they like to set a steady pace. They’re drag artists (or perhaps ‘drag artisans’ expresses that better, without the potentially libellous ambiguity).
From what I’ve seen, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (JTL) seems different. He’s small, like Purito Rodriguez or Alberto Contador. At 5ft 7in and under 10st (174cm and 63kg), his power-to-weight ratio means that the steeper the hill, the more it suits him over other riders.
There’s also talk that he might become a good Classics rider. The Classics are single day races and in truth, different ones suit different riders. However, if you did have to say what they have in common with each other, they all require good stamina – and the ability to climb never hurts, particularly as several feature uphill finishes.
The World Championships often feature a similar sort of course – hilly, rather than mountainous – and that’s definitely the case next weekend in the Netherlands (here’s the route). The bookies have got JTL at ridiculously short odds considering he’s got hardly any experience of these sorts of races and considering also that he might be spending his whole time cycling around with a jersey full of bidons.