Double junior world champion Lucy Garner on turning senior - ‘I have to start all over again’
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Double junior world champion Lucy Garner on turning senior - ‘I have to start all over again’

by José Been at 6:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
 
Talented Briton speaks about step up to the pro ranks with Argos Shimano

Lucy GarnerShe’s twice won the rainbow jersey in the junior categories but turning senior and joining the Argos – Shimano women’s pro team means that Lucy Garner is facing a big step up in 2013. The Briton has said that she will need time to adjust and is looking at this season as a big learning experience.

“I have to start all over again,” she said modestly at the team launch in Altea. “I will have to prove myself and start from scratch. That’s why I want to ride as much as I can this year. Many different races to find out where my strength lies.”

Argos-Shimano counts ten women, among them Kirsten Wild, a Dutch sprinter. Garner won both world titles in a sprint, but realises that she might have to sacrifice some of her own chances this year. “I just love the buzz of the sprint but I think I’ll be part of Kirsten’s train mostly this year,” she accepted.

Thus far, Garner is encouraged by how things seem. “I like being with Argos-Shimano. This is a group of friends, men and women alike,” she said. “Even though we are very different riders, we get along really well. Furthermore, the team has some very experienced staff. This is the place where I want to test and find out what kind of rider I can become.”

Garner is already at a very good level, and can attribute some of that to starting cycling very young and working hard since then. “You have to love the sport that you do,” she explained, talking about what it takes to remain focused. “If you don’t enjoy it, you can’t keep up this level of cycling. I was lucky enough to go to the Dutch town of Assen from the age of 12 with my Leicestershire Road Club every summer. Riding in the Junior Cycling Tour gave me the possibility to ride in bigger bunches than we had in Britain. That’s when I first rode on the cobbles.”

She turned eighteen on September 20th, 2012, one day before her second world title. She beat the competition in Valkenburg in a blistering sprint, capping off what was a special period of her life. “I had a great time being a junior,” she recounted. “With Team GB I received a very good education.”

Part of that learning was in the velodrome, but she appears a little lukewarm about it compared to what she normally does. “ With British Cycling I grew up on the track too but it was quite a far drive. I just prefer the road. Being outside, just go out whenever you want to is the best thing about road racing.”

Thus far, sprinting has been her best weapon. As she explains, it is as much about the mental aspect as the physical. “The final five kilometres are really about switching off your thoughts, to have confidence in your own ability,” she said. “Sprinting is riding on auto-pilot. You have to stop thinking.”

That ability helped her secure her second world title in 2012. That result plus the European title she picked up in the Netherlands means that people hold big expectations for her. She accepts that, but also asks for patience. “I ride very well under pressure. If I don’t put pressure on myself, I can’t deliver the goods,” she said. “But don’t expect big things from me in this first year.

“I don’t expect to win straight away. My expectations are really quite low. I want to learn from the older girls. To me 2013 will be just one big adventure.

“My boyfriend Lars (van der Haar, U23 World Cyclocross champion) and I are in the same phase of our careers,” she adds with a smile. “He moved up to the elite-men, has to start all over again too. The same goes for me. Previous results don’t count anymore.”

Though her race program is unclear she has clear objectives for her first season with the elite-women. “My biggest goal in 2013 is the European Championships for U23-riders in July. I would love to represent Great Britain at the Worlds in Italy, but the selection will be very hard I guess.”

She looks at her nails, painted in ten different designs, and then adds with a broad grin. “I have one big dream and that is to ride on the cobbles one day. A Paris-Roubaix for women. Yes, that would be a real challenge…”

One thing that would help her on those cobbles is the fact that she is an all-round cyclist, as is the world number one Marianne Vos. She can ride well in different areas of the sport. “I even did some cyclocross a few weeks ago but I came in second,” said Garner. “It was only because I crashed in the last turn. But I’ll leave the mud to Lars. Cyclocross is such a tough discipline…I am really proud of how he’s doing.”

Given what she has achieved, he likely feels the same way about her.

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