Monday, 9 April 2012

Jon Tiernan-Locke Takes To Vuelta a Castilla y Leon

This Friday will see the start of a 3 day stage race, the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon in Spain and lining up looking for victory will be Britain's climbing sensation Jon Tiernan-Locke. After falling fowl of a stomach bug in the Coppi e Bartali stage race last month it will be interesting to see if Locke can continue his astounding run of form and challenge for the overall in Spain Edit: Brian Smith - Endura Team Manager - Reliably informs me that JTL has been training at altitude in preparation...

I have been championing Jon Tiernan-Locke this year after his return to winning ways in the Tour of Britain at the end of last season, so far he has taken victories in hilly stage races, destroying fields with far more well known names riding than his own, Tiernan-Locke has performed so well with the Endura Racing Team that a contract for a ProTour team next year is almost a formality and there are rumours that Dave Brailsford will be calling him up for a ride in this years World Championships which take place on a hilly course in the Netherlands, suiting his riding skills to a tee - an amazing feet considering Locke is not currently racing in the highest tier. For a more in depth look into JTL's beginnings, see HERE.

This weeks race will see riders tackle an undulating 3 days of racing, each day will feature categorised climbs and is traditionally a 'climbers' race. The race has plenty of pedigree, in fact a look at the last 5 editions reveals that Alberto Contador - probably the worlds greatest climber has won three, in 2007, 2008 and 2010, the other two editions were won by Levi Leipheimer and Xavier Tondo so its fair to say JTL would be in good company if he took the honours here.

If I had written this post last year, it would have been laughable to suggest Jon Tiernan-Locke could even come close to competing, let alone winning but I feel he is a genuine contender this time around. Endura will take 8 riders with them to Spain and assuming that Tiernan-Locke will be race leader the team around him will be extremely strong with the likes of Russell Downing who spent his last couple of seasons riding in the top tier of cycling for Team Sky.

Stage 1 will feature only one categorised climb just after the midway point and the final run in to the finish will be pretty flat so I suspect any time gaps on this stage will be minimal, its Stage 2 where I think the race may be won, featuring a steep category 2 climb just 18km from the finish should sort the men from the boys and the finish looks to play to JTLs strengths with a slight up-hill finish that should provide just enough of a kick up to power away from the bunch. The final stage is extremely mountainous and should lead to some good attacking from those who may have lost time on stage 2, or for the main contenders to try and put the sword to the rest. All of the stage profiles can be found on the official website for the race HERE (in Spanish I'm afraid). I haven't seen a start list for the race yet, so I'll update when I can.

It should make for an interesting race, especially if Jon Tiernan-Locke is still in the same kind of form  that he was earlier in the season but obviously any coverage on the Internet will be minimal. But be sure to keep an eye out for the results!

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