Rising star Lucy Garner adds European road race championship to her world crown
Leicestershire rider being groomed for future Olympic success proves strongest in the Netherlands
While Britain’s Olympic cyclists have been wowing the nation with their achievements at London 2012, a rising star of the sport has added to her own palmarès elsewhere as Lucy Garner added the European junior road race title to the world championship she won last September.
The 17-year-old from Leicestershire outsprinted Italian junior champion Anna Zita Maria Stricker as well as home rider Kirsten Coppens to win Sunday’s 80 kilometre race in the Dutch province of Zeeland.
Garner, who last month won the senior women's circuit racing national title in Sheffield, was one of just two British riders in the field of 106, the other being Emily Kay, who finished 21st after being involved in a crash in the closing stages.
"Winning the world championship was amazing but to win the European title feels so good," said Garner, quoted in the Leicester Mercury.
"The main riders in the world are always up there in Europe so the race was definitely world-standard.
"I was really nervous – we both were. There were only the two of us against some teams with eight riders in, so we didn't know how it was going to pan out.
"But the race all stayed together so we didn't have to do much chasing.
"Everybody went for any attacks that got away. One [attack] got 15 seconds on the last lap but that was brought back because people were getting ready for the sprint and the pace was high.
"You never know what is going to happen. I've been in races when I have felt strong but someone pips you on the line. Everybody started sprinting about 300m to go. That is too early for me but I still had to go with them. 200-250m is where I like to hit it hard.
"I didn't know that I was going to win until about one or two bike lengths out.
"When I got over the line it was just relief because I had been so nervous!"
Garner and Kay are both members of British Cycling’s Olympic Development Programme and their coach there, Matt Winston, said: "Lucy showed great tactical skill to keep herself at the front of the field.
"There were only two British girls in the race and, with some strong nations fielding eight riders, they were heavily marked.
"Lucy led the sprint and held everyone off to the finish. I'm very happy with the performance of the girls."