Double junior world champion Lucy Garner has refused to be intimidated by life in the professional peloton after her successful senior debut at a bitter edition of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in Belgium last weekend.
The traditional season opener around Ghent was a tough introduction to life in the bunch, demanding a step up in both distance and speed, but a confident Garner was buoyed by completing the course and is determined to continue her upward trajectory through the sport.
“It would be easy to be intimidated but I’m trying to take what I did in the junior ranks into the senior ranks and not really be scared,” she told CW last weekend. “The girls are so much stronger… but I try not to think about anything as such. In a race I just do what I usually do.”
Garner has spent the winter training in Spain with her new Argos-Shimano team, who rate their new signing highly and intend to give her a full and varied race programme in 2013 to establish her strengths and weaknesses.
Garner herself stated that she has “loved every minute of it,” benefitting in particular from the close integration of the men’s and women’s squads. Team staff work with the same equipment and resources across both squads, while riders regularly stay and train together on races and camps.
“It doesn’t feel like we’re getting anything different to the men, we know we’re getting the same,” she said. “Its going to be step by step to get equality with the men in the racing, and I think it’s a shame that the racing wasn’t show on the TV at the weekend, but coming into the professional side I would say things are definitely on the up.”
The 18 year old from Leicester recently moved to the Netherlands to live with her Dutch boyfriend, world cyclocross bronze medallist Lars van der Haar. Changes in location, language and lifestyle, she admitted, can sometimes be tougher than the riding.
“At home it’s so easy to go to your local shops and buy your clothes, you know which shops you want to go to. Here it’s a bit harder at the moment!
“My Dutch isn’t great either,” she added. “I know words but I can’t make a sentence or anything. I’ve tried to read so many things, and I’ve bought things to help me learn. At least I’ve got a long time!”
For more on Lucy Garner’s debut and a full wrap of this weekend’s racing in Belgium, including Geraint Thomas’ hopes for the Tour of Flanders, pick up a copy of this week’s Cycling Weekly, out on February 28.