Lucy Garner continued her build up to the world championships with victory at the European Road Championships in Holland last weekend.
The defending junior world champion, 17, won the junior women’s road race with a trademark sprint ahead of Anna Zita Maria Stricker of Italy and Kirsten Coppens from the Netherlands.
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Despite having just one other rider from Great Britain in the race, Emily Kay, Garner explained to CW that an edgy peloton composed of large rival squads meant a sprint finish was always on the card.
“I think a lot of the riders were quite nervous so if anyone did attack, everyone seemed to be chasing them down straight away. It played into our hands quite nicely because we just followed the wheels.”
Garner, who has been racing in Europe since she was twelve, was grateful that her experience on the continent helped her deal with the style of racing that can’t be replicated in the UK.
“I wouldn’t say it’s faster, it’s just the amount of aggression,” she said. “Everyone is fighting to be near the front and you can’t relax at all, everyone is trying to move up to get to the front.”
Indeed a large crash on the final bend of the 80km course, which involved four laps of a 20km loop, destroyed Kay’s hopes with just a few hundred metres to go. She emerged in 21st: unscathed yet disappointed.
Garner meanwhile now turns her attention purely to defending her rainbow jersey when the world championships head to Limburg on September 21. She will race the national junior and youth track championships on August 27 before training specifically for the hilly course in Holland.
“My win here does give me a bit of confidence but it’s a completely different course at the worlds, so we’ll have to see how it goes,” added Garner, who won with a sprint at the 2011 championships.
“Now I can concentrate fully on training for the worlds and get a few more hills in. It’s probably not a course suited to me, but I’ll give it a go.”