Lucy Garner gave a glimpse of her potential as she mixed it with the stars of women’s cycling at yesterday’s Drentse 8 one-day race in the Netherlands.
In only her second UCI-ranked race as a professional, Garner sprinted to eighth as current road world champion Marianne Vos (Rabo Women Cycling Team) took the victory. The women she succeeded in the rainbow jersey – Wiggle-Honda’s Giorgia Bronzini – came second.
“It was a really hard race – there were crashes and punctures throughout, but the team had faith in me as sprinter so I’m glad I got the result,” she told Cycling Weekly.
“The top 10 were all pretty close – only two or three bike lengths separated the first top 10. To see my name up there with all the others is a good feeling. It’s also a big step for me”
Despite her relative inexperience, Garner said her Argos-Shimano team were keen to see how she fared against the world’s best in a bunch kick.
“The plan was that if the race was together come the finish the girls were going to work for me to see how I compare to the others,” she said. “I was really excited, unsurprisingly. I didn’t know what to expect.
“Unfortunately Willeke [Knol] crashed and Esra [Tromp] punctured near the finish, which left just Kelly [Markus] and I left for sprint. Somehow I managed to stay out of danger and find the right wheels and was able to contest it.”
The 18-year-old admitted that she hadn’t quite released the quality of riders she was up against until she saw a replay of the finish afterwards.
Garner said: “It was only after I watched it back that I realised I was argy bargy with best in the world.”
Having made a name for herself with two brilliant sprint victories in the Junior World Championship Road Races in 2010 and 2011, Garner said that top-level racing is far more intense.
“In junior racing you kick really hard for sprint. The women are already racing at a high pace before the finish, so that’s the biggest change,” she said.
“Before the finish, I was going pretty hard and so I had to push hard to try sprint on top of that. But I think I rode sensibly before the finish and did not waste any energy.”
Garner’s next race will be the Novilon Euregio Cup, again in the Netherlands, on Sunday.
Drentse 8, Dwingeloo-Dwingello, 141.2km
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabo Women Cycling Team in 3-26-50
2. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle-Honda
3. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS
4. Shelley Olds (USA) Team TIBCO
5. Elen Cecchini (Ita) Faren
6. Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) Specialized-Lululemon
7. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Hitec Products – UCK
8. Lucy Garner (Gbr) Argos-Shimano
9. Megan Guarnier (USA) Rabo Women Cycling Team
10. Alexandrea Burchenkova (Rus) RusVelo all at st.