By Owen Rogers
Britain’s Lucy Garner will start her first Giro d’Italia Femminile this week part of an eight-woman Giant-Shimano team. Twice Junior World Champion, she has only raced 16 days this season, the team nurturing her talent, so her selection was a surprise.
It is hoped she’ll show well in the flatter stages, but the aim is to gain experience and strength. “We hope she can become the best sprinter in the world in these kind of races,” team coach Hans Timmermans told us. “But we have we have to build foundations, and be patient.”
Lucy herself is looking forward to the challenge. “I’ve only known I was going to the Giro for about two months, but it’s a great opportunity for me,” the 19 year old told Cycling Weekly.
“It’s the longest stage race I’ve done, but it’s something I’m happy to be doing even at this age. This will make me stronger and it’s going to be good for Commonwealth Games preparation. I’d love to get a top three in one of the sprint stages, the team believe I can and I’m really determined to do that.”
Other than two flat stages the race is hilly and does not play to Garner’s strengths, “Obviously it is going to be hard, but I’m going to have to dig in. If I don’t finish but have done as much as I can for the team, I’ll have done my job, but of course I’d love to finish.”
The Leicestershire-born rider has ridden consistently throughout the season with a number of podium finishes, and performed well at the Women’s Tour, taking seventh on General Classification against the cream of the women’s peloton.
The 10-stage race, the most prestigious on the women’s calendar, starts this evening with a 2.5km prologue, concluding with a mountain-top finish at the Madonna del Ghisallo, an annual feature in the Giro di Lombardia.
Four other British riders are scheduled to ride; Emma Pooley (Lotto-Belisol), Lucy Martin (Estado de Mexico-Faren), Sharon Laws and Hannah Barnes (United Healthcare).
Cycling Weekly's guide to the biggest women's stage race, the Giro Rosa.
Lucy Garner bettered only by Marianne Vos in the Rabobank 7-Dorpenomloop Aalburg
Double junior world champion Lucy Garner heads up Great Britain's young team at the inaugural Women's Tour