Endura manager Smith says team had full confidence in Tiernan Locke
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Monday, February 13, 2012

Endura manager Smith says team had full confidence in Tiernan Locke

by Shane Stokes at 6:11 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
 
Team was initially refused Tour of Mediterranean slot, Madiot also opposed to invite

Jon Tiernan LockeJon Tiernan Locke’s performance may have been a surprise to those who didn’t previously know him, but his Endura Racing team manager Brian Smith said that the team had strong confidence in him heading into the Tour of the Mediterranean.

Tiernan Locke had a dominant showing, picking up the first and last stages in the prestigious early-season race and also taking the final overall classification. The display is the best of his career, although he did previously highlight his talent with victory in the King of the Mountains competition at the Tour of Britain.

“Jon winning Med was no surprise to all to those associated with the team,” former Motorola pro Smith told VeloNation. “At the training camp in Majorca we did a hill test on the second day and Iker Camano was blown away by his explosiveness. Over the next few days we could see his commitment to training and his willingness to listen and learn. We then targeted the Mount Faron stage as a possible win.”

That climb would ultimately not feature in the race, with yesterday’s freezing conditions leading to a fall of snow and its scratching from the parcours. Tiernan Locke would triumph anyway, making a big solo move to win atop the Col des Gardes. However he didn’t wait until the expected stage to show his strength.

“The first stage was a bonus and we need to thank Russ Downing for telling Jon to have a go,” Smith continued. “From the start of Med we were always looking after Jon as we believed he could do it. Having the team behind him gave Jon the confidence to do what he does best. I also think, being such a likeable guy, that he genuinely did not want to let his team-mates down. You can see from all the other riders that they are over the moon for him.”

The victory is particularly sweet given that the team was at first refused as a wildcard for the race. “I was initially told 'no' by race organisers,” Smith revealed. “We got a kicking three years ago and last year got a couple of top ten placings. It can be a battle for a Continental team to get in these races, especially as sponsorship of events like this has been difficult to come by.”

He confirmed reports that FDJ BigMat manager Marc Madiot had resisted their participation. “The main concern from the organisers was that Madiot had complained last year about taking us on at the detriment of other French teams. They knew they would be in for another battle with him if they included us again,” he said.

However Smith was able to give race director Lucien Aimar and his crew an additional reason to select the team. “I offered to help them with some tv contacts to help their broadcast and they thought this was enough ammunition to have in case Madiot kicked off again.”

That would ultimately work, but there was a benefit to the tension and uncertainty; Smith could use it to motivate the riders. “At the training camp I told the team about the battles we were having with race organisers and Madiot, and to remember this when racing. It nice of Madiot to look after the other French teams but cycling needs to appeal to an international market to survive. Stephen Roche also helped to fight in our corner.”

In winning the race, Tiernan Locke joined a very impressive list of winners of the race. Previous victors include
Eddy Merckx, Phil Anderson, Jean Francois Bernard, Tony Rominger, Gianni Bugno and Laurent Jalabert. The effects on his self confidence will be considerable.

“I was a bit nervous this morning, but it all went to plan today and the team did a great job keeping me in the right place to go for it at the end,” he said after receiving the final yellow jersey. “We had to fight hard to keep out of trouble at the front of the bunch all day and at the bottom of the climb I was where I needed to be. So I just went for it.”

Next up for him and the team is next weekend’s Tour du Haut Var, another big goal for Tiernan Locke. This time there’ll be no questions about the team’s participation in the race.

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