US national road race champion Megan Guarnier said Wednesday that she has signed a one-year deal to ride next season with the Rabobank squad of world champion and Olympic gold medalist Marianne Vos.
"It's the number one team in the world; everyone knows that," Guarnier told Cyclingnews. "I've always wanted to be full-time in Europe, and so when something like this comes across your plate it's the opportunity of a lifetime."
Guarnier, 27, took the overall win at the NRC-opening Redlands Bicycle Classic this season while riding her third season on US UCI team Tibco-To the Top. She also raced overseas with the US national team for a significant part of the season, earning crucial UCI points that helped boost the number of US riders that got to compete in London. Back in the States, she won the challenging Stillwater Criterium stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix and then sprinted to a win at the US national road race championships.
Her biggest international win remains the overall victory she took at the Giro della Toscana in 2011, and Guarnier, who was on the long team for the Olympic games but didn't make the final selection, wants to add more international results to her palmares.
"I've always wanted to push myself and put myself in situations where I really have to raise my game," Guarnier said. "And, for sure, this is going to be one of those places where there will be a lot asked of me. I'm ready for it."
Racing with Vos and the seemingly tight-knit Rabobank squad will provide opportunities to learn about bike racing and riding "as a real unit," Guarnier said. "She seems like a super positive person, and the team seems very cohesive on and off the bike, so I don't really know the girls, but I'm definitely looking forward to being a part of that."
Aside from learning from the world's top-ranked women's team, Guarnier said, she's excited about being immersed in the European racing experience, and she hopes to soak up as much knowledge and information as possible over the next season.
"A lot of my goals are over there," she said. "I'd like to win a World Cup like Flanders or Fleche or one of those races, but in order to win them you have to know those races, and the more experience you get, you're just learning your opponents, learning the courses, learning about yourself and learning how to win."
Guarnier said she hopes the team continues to consider competing in the US next season, but she is also looking forward to flying her stars-and-stripes jersey in the European peloton.
"People have told me it kind of shows the rate at which women's cycling in America is just getting better and better," she said. "We're going over to Europe more, and we're actually being more of a factor in every race. For an American woman to be able to represent her country on such a well-respected team is a positive step for women's cycling in America."