Double junior world champion Lucy Garner heads up Great Britain's young team at the inaugural Women's Tour

Words by Owen Rogers

Lucy Garner starts the Women’s Tour today leading a young Great Britain team whose main aim is to gain experience and physical condition, but the two time World Junior Road Champion is still hoping to compete in the sprints against a top class field.

Other than Garner, the rest of the team are from the British Cycling Academy, and have little or no stage race experience, but have been selected to aid their physical and mental development with an eye on the track events at the 2016 Olympics.

Garner, however, remains hopeful of success in the five day race. “I would love to win at least one stage,” she told Cycling Weekly, “but to win I need really good legs and a lot of luck, so a realistic goal is a podium.” There’s extra incentive in stage two which passes her parents’ Leicestershire home, “family and friends will be there supporting, so obviously that would be a nice one to win,” she added.

It’s not just experience for the other riders, however, “It’s going to be hard, but they’ve trained well,” team manager Darren Tudor told us, “Emily Kay positions herself well in the bunch and she’s got a fast finish, so I think she can support Lucy in some way. Ciara Horne and Katie Archibald have big strong engines, so we’re hoping that at least one of them can slope into one or two moves. For the rest, the first couple of days especially will purely be about learning,” he continued.

After a tough 2013, 19 year-old Garner has raced a lighter programme so far this year, her Giant-Shimano trade team nurturing her obvious talent. “I’ve got goals in every single race now, so it’s just good that I can get the training I need to hit these races hard and in good form,” she told us.

The five stage Women’s Tour starts today with a 93.8 km stage between Oundle and Northampton and concludes on Sunday in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.