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Interview: Lucy Garner
By Bart Hazen
Date: 10/12/2012
Interview: Lucy Garner

Interview: Lucy Garner
Interview with 18 year old Lucy Garner. Garner has become the first Junior since Nicole Cooke (2001-2002) to win two road world titles in a row. She is also the current European Junior Road Champion and signed with Argos-Shimano for 2013.

Last month Britain's Lucy Garner successfully prolonged her world title in the junior-women's category one day after celebrating her 18th birthday. For Great Britain it was a very successful week with Elinor Barker powering to the world title in the junior-women's individual time-trial. We caught up with Lucy this week to speak amongst others about her season, her contract with Agros-Shimano and being in a relationship with double U23 Cyclo Cross World Champion Lars van der Haar.

Garner (Node4 - Giordana Women’s Team) had a very good year with winning the road races at both the European Championships and the World Championships and winning several national senior track titles only two weeks ago. Talking about successfully defending the rainbow jersey she admits that her title in Valkenburg was definitely the most difficult compared to Copenhagen the year before. "Valkenburg was definitely the most difficult as I was there racing to defend my title. I put a lot of pressure onto myself and made sure I did a lot of hill efforts to get me ready for the race and the form that I needed to try and defend my title. It wasn't just physically challenging but also mentally challenging."

Double junior road world champion Lucy Garner. Photo © 2012 Bart Hazen

It seemed in the race that everyone was looking to each other and especially to the British team to do all the work. But the race developed as Garner and the team expected and has hoped for without feeling the big pressure to win. "In the race there wasn't many big attacks which worked into our hands as we wanted it to be a bunch sprint finish. I didn't feel that in the race everyone was looking at us. There were a lot of nervous riders so any attacks that went, everyone seemed to chase which saved a lot of energy for us. Having Elinor Barker win the ITT was amazing and we were all so happy for her. I had the strongest team around me that did everything they could to help me win. Actually the whole team won! not just me. I didn't have any pressure from the team to win, we go to races to develop and learn."

Garner is the first one since her compatriot Nicole Cooke in 2001 and 2002 who won two consecutive junior world titles. She is aware of this impressive achievement but she doesn't compare herself with the 2008 Olympic Champion or the 2012 Silver medal winner in London Lizzie Armitstead. "It would be amazing to achieve what they have, but it is a big step for me turning into a senior and it will take a lot of hard work and time to get where they are." But although both Garner and Barker still have to prove things in the senior ranks, it are two riders to look for in the (near) future.

Due to her performances over the past two years in the junior ranks and especially at the World Championships Garner gets more and more known in Great Britain. But all the attention didn't really change her way of life. "I wouldn't say that I am famous but I have so many younger riders emailing me and asking me tips which is really nice as it means more people are wanting to get into the sport. I love racing but after winning my first world title there was a lot of media attention which I wasn't used to, so I think that was the main difference."

Garner sprints to the world title in Valkenburg. Photo © 2012 Bart Hazen

Garner joins Argos-Shimano for 2013
With the road race at the World Championships Garner rode her final race as a junior rider. Next year she will become a professional cyclist with Argos-Shimano. Before we go more into detail she first looks back to the past two years. "I think some things could of gone better over the years, but I feel that for all the major championships I have been on the best form possible and that's what I wanted. I trained so hard for each championship to try and get the best result possible and I am so happy with how the past two years has gone."

Her performances didn't go unnoticed as she signed her first professional contract with the Dutch Argos-Shimano team a few days ago. Despite several other offers she chose to ride for a team who wants to belong to the best professional teams in the World. In this team she will join world class pro's as Kirsten Wild, Charlotte Becker and Amy Pieters. Why this choice? Garner explains: "Argos-Shimano are so keen on developing me as a rider and training me to become the best rider I can be, and that's exactly what I need moving from junior to senior. It is a huge step and knowing I haven't the pressure to win means I can concentrate on being a better bike rider and gain more experience. Team spirit, Inspiration, Integrity, Improvement and Innovation are the five principles which are powerful words and sum up Argos-Shimano in what they want to achieve."

But signing for Argos-Shimano wasn't that obvious as after the World Championships David Brailsford, performance director of British Cycling and general manager of Team Sky, was talking and thinking about to setup a women’s academy for riders like Garner and Barker. In a previous interview I did with Garner she told that she would love to get on the British Cycling Academy after she finished her years with the Olympic Development program. She explains "Team GB have helped me ever since I have started racing and the amount of experience I have gained from the programmes I have been on really has made me into the rider I am today. They are keen to carry on my development and support me as much as they can."

Garner got Eline Brustad and Anna Stricker on the podium after prolonging her world title. Photo © 2012 Bart Hazen

Garner, who always looked up to riders like Marianne Vos and Lizzie Armitstead, is really looking forward to the step up from the juniors to the seniors and looks forward to race next season against the best riders in the World. But she doesn't expect immediately the big results. "Its hard to know how I will perform against the best women in the world, I will have a hard winter training to set me up for the road season. I would love to be able to get selected for the World championships but GB have such a strong women's team, so it will be very tough. I'm really looking forward to the step up and excited to race against all the professional women."

The Netherlands
But Garner has more in common with the Netherlands than going to ride for a Dutch team next year. Since May 2012 she is in a relationship with double U23 cyclo cross World Champion Lars van der Haar (Rabobank-Giant-Offroad). The two World Champions have both a busy life with their own careers but they support each other in the best possible way. "I go out training with Lars when I can, I will visit some races of him over the winter and he supports me with my races. Apart from racing it's nice to be able to relax, so we just carry on with our lives as normal."

Last week in the Superprestige opener in Ruddervoorde where Lars finished in seventh Garner was there with Lars his family to support him. But apart from a few people she didn't get recognized as a double Junior World Champion, at most as the girlfriend of..."It doesn't bother me at all. I am there to support Lars and I am not there to race myself so it is nice to enjoy the racing with his family." Garner competed in cyclo cross herself too until two years ago and still loves the sport. "I loved watching him race, it made me want to get my cross bike out though! I have always loved cyclo cross and I usually carry on with cyclo cross training once a week over the winter, but I need my rest after a long season so I think I will just sit back and watch Lars get muddy and wet haha."

Earlier in the year Garner also sprinted to the gold medal at the European Championships in The Netherlands. Photo © 2012 Bart Hazen

Garner further states that she always would have loved to live and race in the Netherlands because of the beautiful races and the nice people. But signing a contract with Argos-Shimano and being in a relationship with Van der Haar both has come true. "It's a huge step for me moving to the Netherlands but I know a lot of people out here, so I'm looking forward to it." Talking about what's so special for her to be and race in the Netherlands she says: "I have always loved racing over there and I have gained so much experience from doing so. The races are aggressive and there is a big field which I love. I love all races so no race in particular."

Garner, who is currently in her rest period, starts her winter training for next season soon. "Rest is so important for me now as I have had a long season. When I start with training again, I will do more hours to improve my endurance, but still keeping the speed work in there." The speed work she will maintain with competing in track races. "I will be on the track and the road over the winter, as I feel both really help each other. It's ideal in the winter to be on the track especially as England isn't known for its good weather… " For the long term she likely prefers the road above the track but for the moment she still enjoys both. "At the moment I will do both, but I do enjoy the road more and have shown better potential on the road I feel. I do enjoy doing Team Pursuit and bunch races on the track though."

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