Lucy Garner is ready to help deliver her Great Britain teammate Lizzie Armitstead into the rainbow stripes in just over a week’s time. Now nearing the end of her third year as a professional, the two-time junior world champion hopes to play a bigger role at the World Championships in Richmond than she has in previous seasons.
“I’m feeling pretty positive. I’m really happy to be selected again. The past two years, with the courses, they have been really tough. I wasn’t able to support Lizzie as much as I’d like to but I think this year is a chance for me to really help the team,” Garner told Cyclingnews. “It’s going to be a very tough course but it’s going to be hard in a different way to the other years. I’m really hoping that I can do as much as I can and, obviously, it would be great for GB to come home with the rainbow stripes. We’ll be fighting for it.”
Garner comes off a good performance at the first-ever Madrid Challenge and will be heading out to the United States on Monday the 21st. She is one of six riders that will compete in the women’s road race with Armitstead the team’s leader. Armitstead goes into the race as one of the pre-race favourites after winning the World Cup for the second year running. She did it in a much more commanding fashion this time by winning three rounds of the 10-race competition.
Armitstead was one of the favourites last season also but ended up missing out on a medal and came home in seventh. Garner says that the disappointment of last year will drive them on next week. “It will just want to make us fight even more for it. I think we’re all on really good form and we just want to do the best that we can for Lizzie because we know how much she wants this,” said Garner.
“I think, for the World Championships, she’s going to be in the best form of the season and maybe her life coming into it. I know the Dutch will have a strong team but I think that GB can help Lizzie a lot on that type of course.”
This Monday, it was announced that Garner would be leaving her current set-up at Liv-Plantur and joining Wiggle-Honda next season on a two-year contract. Garner has been with Liv Plantur since she turned professional in 2013. She will be joining the likes of super sprinter Giorgia Bronzini and Jolien d’Hoore. Swedish champion Emma Johansson will also move to the team next season.
“I’m really excited about it,” Garner said to Cyclingnews. “They had a lot of belief in me and of course Liv did as well but I felt like I needed a change. This past couple of years, especially over the winter with injuries, I wasn’t developing the way that I wanted to. I think being with Liv it was great to have all the opportunities that I did but I think that I need to learn as well from riders that have been in the peloton for a while, especially the sprinters.
“I want to try and gain much of what they know and put it into the races. I’m really motivated for next season already.”
Garner made a name for herself when she became the first rider since Nicole Cooke to win the junior women’s world title in two consecutive seasons – Amalie Dideriksen has done it since. She made the step up the following year but has been unable to replicate her early performances. This season has been particularly tough for the 20-year-old with illness problems forcing her to cut out chunks of her programme. With her new outfit, Garner hopes to become the super sprinter her world titles promised.
“It has been a struggle this year. I really want to have a strong winter and this year I’ve been going into a lot of the races and just sprinting. Next year I hope that I can build my engine, because I think that really important as well for me as a sprinter so that I’m going into the finals fresh,” she explained.
“I really want to improve my climbing because that is one of my weak spots at the moment and I think a lot of the races that quite a lot of the sprinters win they are getting over the climbs so I need to be able to that in the future. I am getting better but I hope to improve that a lot more. It’s important and it would be great to contest the sprints in the classic-type races.”
Following the World Championships in just over a week, Garner will be jetting home to the Netherlands to enjoy four week’s rest before the training for next season begins in earnest.