Even having the title of World Champion next to your name, Team GB and Rapha Condor Sharp rider Andy Tennant is under no illusion that the run up to this year’s Olympics will be a clear cut one.
Only getting the OK to go to the World Championships in Melbourne three weeks before the event the Wolverhampton rider knew he had a golden opportunity to come home with a team pursuit gold medal. The Championships started better then could have been expected with the fastest qualifying time ever but not having the legs to be able to compete in the final and then being told he could collect his medal, it was a roller coaster day for the rider. I caught up with Andy at a meet-and-greet afternoon at his local cycle shop.
AW: What were your feelings when you were picked to travel to Melbourne for the Worlds? You obviously came up with the numbers to justify your selection.
AT: Everything we do is analysed and obviously they only take the fastest guys to something that important. I proved to the selectors I was worthy of that flight. It felt really good, I looked at my selection as a first step, just to get there was an achievement and by no means the finished product. I was disappointed not to be picked to ride the London test event but I wasn't in the best condition at that time but I worked at getting back so I had a chance of going to the Worlds.
AW: You must have had mixed emotions with putting down that time in qualifying and then not having the legs to make the cut for the final?
AT: That was so disappointing, I was so excited when we got through to the final after putting in that time to qualify then not have the legs for the main event, but looking back and taking the positives - six weeks previously I would have taken that with pleasure, We beat our Copenhagen record, we took the third fastest time ever and the quickest qualifying time ever, so yeah it was pretty mixed.
AW: Tell us about the five of you on the podium, I heard you thought it was a joke when they called you to go the medal ceremony.
AT: I did yeah, I really didn't believe it and I thought they were winding me up. I asked Keith Reynolds and Abby Burton to triple check that I had to go up. I didn't want that embarrassmentof getting to the podium and then to be told, sorry you're not supposed to be here. When I was waiting to go and collect the jersey I still didn't believe it and I asked the podium girls how many Medals and jerseys they had. They actually counted them in front of me so then I knew I was in the right place. To pull on the World Championship jersey was just fantastic, obviously it would have been nicer to ride in the final but it is a team discipline and you have to qualify to get to the final. There was a reporter who suggested I shouldn't have got the gold medal but if I had rode the bike one metre in that race and climbed off I would have still got a silver, so in my eyes it’s a similar thing.
AW: The pursuit team will now go the Olympics as World Champions, how are your preparations coming on for the event?
AT: I've sat down with the team managers and we have discussed the plans for the event and hopefully we will be able to take five guys to compete in London. I know I have to be in the best form of my life to get there and hopefully we can win that gold medal.
AW: Looking at your domestic commitments for this season, tell us about about riding for Rapha Condor Sharp, you are one of the more senior riders on the team this year?
AT: I am and along with Ed (Clancy) probably the most childish in the team, the younger riders in the team are a lot more sensible then we are. We try to show them the more relaxed way of approaching a bike race, I'm sure they can learn something from us about bike racing. I must bring something to the table otherwise John (Herety) wouldn't have me in the team. He's very focused when it comes to the team, He has paid me a few nice compliments recently, which coming from John mean a lot and I'll cherish those for a while. I think Ed and myself have earned a few brownie points with him recently. He really does know racing, the British scene and he knows how things work on the road. He is arguably the best team manager I've worked for and I respect him very highly.
AW: What are the teams objectives for 2012?
AT: Without doubt the Halfords Tour Series. The Tour of Britain is also a big focus for the team and along with the Halfords Series they give the team and our sponsors some great television coverage. We obviously did very well last season in the Tour Series, we won but I think this year it will be a lot more difficult. We have a pretty strong crit team with Dean Downing, Jimmy McCallum and Ed who is probably the quickest rider on the circuit and along with Kristian House and myself we have a solid base for the races. It’s all about riding as a team. It’s all about getting the whole team up there in the top places that win the overall. As I said this year’s Series will be a lot tougher, Endura have strengthened their squad and Raleigh have a much stronger team so it isn't going to be as clear cut as previous years.
AW: And finally, your personal goals for 2012?
AT: To compete and to win in the Olympics.period. I'm sure something nice will happen in August.