What UCI Road Cycling World Championships
Where Copenhagen, Denmark
When 23 September 2011
Lucy Garner’s junior world title win in Copenhagen has to be on every road cycling fan’s top ten moments of 2011.
An against-the-odds victory that owed as much to teamwork and tenacity as it did to the massive talent of Garner, who emulated her hero Nicole Cooke, who won the junior title back in 2001 before going onto (much) bigger and better things.
This incredible image above says it all, Garner’s face a mixture of triumph, elation and sheer surprise, five bike lengths clear and surfing on a wave of emotion. The expression does not betray the fact that, moments before, Garner thought all hopes were dashed, knocked off line in the long uphill sprint to the line.
Speaking after the race Lucy said “"I couldn't believe it. Up the hill I remembered I had to wait, a lot of other riders were going but I had to wait for the right moment. Then, when I attacked, I tangled with another girl. First I thought it was race over”.
It was not for the first time that ‘game over’ had flashed across Lucy’s consciousness that day. Garner had stared down the barrel of defeat in the early throes of the race, bouncing off the tarmac and forced to regain contact with the peloton alone. “I thought it was over, that I would be too tired to do anything else. Even when I got back into the group I was nearly off the back again.”
On paper every race has only one winner, but behind the chequered flag moment is a massive team effort. And so it was with Garner’s victory. Once reconnected with the peloton, Garner’s teammates controlled the pace and nursed their sprinter back into contention. However no sooner had Garner rekindled hopes of a win, than they were immediately threatened again “"By the time I had recomposed myself and settled into the bunch there were two riders up the road with a big lead and in my mind the race for gold was over” said Lucy. “That is what prompted me to attack off of the front with eight kilometres left to race, I had nothing to lose.” Garner was reeled in once again but somehow found enough in the tank to recover in the wheels before outclassing everyone in the final sprint.
In hindsight it would appear that nothing could have stopped Garner winning that day; that champions like Garner are made of much more than talent and that the ability to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous bad fortune and to come back fighting is surely the mark of a true champion.
What Lucy Garner said
"The fact I'd won only felt real on the podium, all the emotions came out, I'd never experienced anything like it. The crowds, the atmosphere, I was overcome with emotion and just started crying. It was the perfect birthday present, only a few days late."
Why should this be the British Cycling's Ride of the Year 2011?
An inspiring ride proving that there’s more to a successful athlete than talent alone. Ten years on from Nicole Cooke’s junior world title, Garner’s win introduces another huge GB talent onto the world stage.
You can place your vote for British Cycling’s Ride of the Year 2011 here. Please note voting opens at 9am on 15 December once all the nominations have been revealed and closes at 5pm on 18 December 2011.