John Tanner: Racing at new level

VeloUK talks to British legend John Tanner of the Sportscover/Strategic/Altura/BBM Bikes team about his DoonHame …

It wasn’t that many years ago that John Tanner was, along with Mark Lovatt, the dominant rider in the Premier Calendar. Today, with son Jake and another equally well known legend in Kevin Dawson, they are part of a team that is competing with the professional teams such as Endura Racing and so on.

It wasn’t the pros that had John and his Jake at sixes and sevens on stage 1 though but the weather and the roads. When first year senior Jake Tanner punctured, his dad John gave him his wheel as the team did not have a car in the race convoy. John takes up the story … “I gave my Jake my wheel and I was hoping he could get back on through the convoy but it was a bit twisty and hard for the cars to come round the riders in the convoy. It was chaos basically.”

“I managed to get behind a car and we picked up Jake along the way and we were more or less getting back to the convoy but there was big wipeout in the bunch and it just stopped everything. After that, there were riders going off behind their own cars and basically we got left behind. That’s bike racing though.”

John, as well as having dominated the Premier Calendar having won it five times, has represented Great Britain in the Olympic road race and also rode for the ill fated Linda McCartney pro team in Europe.  Few riders are as experienced as John and when asked has he seen a day like we saw on day 1 of DoonHame, he replied “no, not for a long time. The roads were that bad with pot holes, rocks and anything that could cause a puncture or crash. It was chaos!”

“We did around 70 miles on our own, just the two of us. It were alright really and it was a learning experience for Jake. Every day is different so the main thing was to get to the finish so we could ride the next day. Jake probably needs more experience changing wheels and getting behind the cars and learning the ropes.”

One of the talking points of the Premier Calendar is the depth of the riders racing these days, an example being the bunch finish in the second stage of DoonHame. So who better to ask but the rider who won his first Premier Series back in 1994. “The racing is now more team orientated. There are nine rider teams now whereas back when I was winning we were a three man team. You’d get the odd big team back then but now they are well drilled and well managed.”

“There are some good lads out there.”

John’s team itself has five riders in the race and he feels there is more money in the sport now and it is a lot more professional. “It’s good racing now. It is a lot more even in the peloton.”  He then went off to line up for the second stage where Jake Tanner did well finishing in the peloton (42nd) contesting the win, while dad John was a few places in front in 28th with BBM’s Ashley Brown a place in front in 27th.