JON TIERNAN-LOCKE believes that there can seldom have been a better time to move into international ProTour cycle racing than now, at the height of the sport's battle to rid itself of a damaging drug culture.
Armed with a new two-year contract with the UK's crack Team Sky Procycling, South Devon's Tour of Britain winner Locke says: "It's a good time now, but it's also peace of mind for the future. You would have to be an absolute idiot to even contemplate taking anything (illegal).
"In fact, the playing field must have been level for quite a while now.
"The stuff that people are talking about now is going back several years.
"I couldn't have got the results I've got so far, especially last season, if there wasn't a level playing field, so the whole drug thing hasn't really affected me.
"If people beat you next season, it will be because they are better or fitter than you."
Locke, who has just accepted life-membership of Kingsteignton's Mid-Devon CC/Colin Lewis Cycles club, is already working on the fitness issue.
Under Team Sky's conditioning, performance and diet experts, the explosive climber has embarked on a training regime designed, among other things, to make him even lighter.
Already super-fit, Locke managed to lose one-and-a-half stone last winter. But that's not enough for Sky.
"No stone is unturned with an outfit like Sky – they look at every ounce," said Locke, who was asked to tackle one five-hour training ride last week on no breakfast and just water in his bottles.
"If they can identify any area where you can improve, you have to buy into it," he said.
"There's always a temptation to work too hard in the winter, but I've been given certain guidelines and I have enjoyed a bit more time off than usual after the end of last season.
"I'll be working hard over Christmas – that's always a difficult time because everyone else is relaxing and tucking in – because we have a second training camp in Majorca in January, and I need to be ready for that."
Locke, who followed his Tour of Britain victory by finishing only five seconds behind victor Philippe Gilbert in the World Road Race Championship in Holland in September, will join Sky stars like Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome at the first Majorca 'camp' on December 6.
His first major objective is likely to be Portugal's Tour Of The Algarve in mid-February, won earlier this year by Sky's Richie Porte with Wiggins third.
"There's a possibility I may ride the Vuelta (Tour of Spain) later in the season, but nothing's decided yet," he said.
"I want to get a Grand Tour in my legs, to see how I would respond to it.
"It changes you as a rider, and you learn a lot about yourself."