When Megan Guarnier decided to announce her retirement from professional cycling at the end of the 2018 season, she had every intention of hanging up her wheels for good to focus on her family and education. It wasn't until Tibco-SVB owner Linda Jackson presented her with an enticing offer to mentor the American team that Guarnier realised a change was all that was needed to keep her invested in the sport.
"I still love the sport of cycling, and this was a perfect way for me to remain in women's cycling and pass on my knowledge and experience to the next generation of riders," Guarnier wrote to Cyclingnews in an email.
Guarnier had spent a successful five seasons with the Europe-based programme Boels Dolmans, where she won the overall titles at the Giro Rosa, Tour of California, Ladies Tour of Norway and the Tour de Yorkshire, in addition to one-day wins at Strade Bianche and the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic, and the overall title at the Women's WorldTour.
The life of a professional cyclist can be challenging, however, without a consistent home base and travelling around the world to competitions for roughly nine months of the year.
"Spending so much time away from my family was very difficult over the past few years when I was racing full time in Europe," Guarnier wrote.
"Linda and Team Tibco provided me an opportunity to continue within the sport in a role where I will not have to spend so much time away from home while still being able to pursue my passion."
The decision to join Tibco-SVB was made even easier by the fact that Guarnier was familiar with the team environment, having started her pro career with the team in 2010, and staying with them for three seasons. At that time, she raced a mix of North American and European races.
"Team Tibco is the longest-running women's team in the United States, where I spent my first three years as a professional cyclist and won my first National Championship, so I am very proud to be coming back to where I kicked off my professional racing career," said Guarnier, who won the three US national titles in the road race in 2012, 2015 and 2016.
Guarnier recently joined her teammates at an opening season training camp held from February 13-26 in California. Her teammates include Lauren Stephens, Lex Albrecht, Nicole Bruderer, Brodie Chapman, Alice Cobb, Ingrid Drexel, Alison Jackson, Nina Kessler, Sharlotte Lucas, Shannon Malseed, Emily Newsom, Rozanne Slik and Kendall Ryan. The team have also hired former pro Rachel Heal as their head director for the 2019 season.
Guarnier’s race schedule was not confirmed at the time of this interview, but Jackson noted that Guarnier will be competing in North America and providing valuable mentorship to the riders both in and outside of competition.
"I hope to contribute to the team’s success through mentoring on and off the bike, and provide tactical insight in races to help each rider continue to achieve their goals and develop their strengths," Guarnier said.