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Cycling: Lucy Garner aims to show a clean pair of heels in world title defence

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Lucy Garner turns 18 tomorrow, but thoughts of celebrating the landmark occasion are firmly on hold.

Uppermost in the Cosby girl's mind is her defence of the world junior road race title she won so dramatically in Copenhagen 12 months ago.

On Friday, the rainbow jersey goes on the line in the Netherlands against the world's best young riders.

Confidence should not be in short supply for the Node4-Giordana sprinter, who has enjoyed another stunning season which has already brought her half a dozen major titles, including European gold on the road a month ago.

Garner, a member of British Cycling's Olympic development programme, is well aware of the unpredictability of road racing.

She knows that she has to be in the form of her life to have a chance of repeating her day of Danish glory.

That form has been rock-solid in 2012, earning 13 wins to date on the road and track with in excess of 20 top-three finishes at home and abroad.

No stone has been left unturned in her preparations to tackle a hilly course which hardly suits her fast-finishing style, and last week the 'Cosby Express' stuck it out on a BC training camp in Wales.

"The last day was really tough," she said. "We only did about an hour's riding but we went up a climb that is like the hills we will face in Holland.

"We did that twice. Through the week my legs weren't feeling quite how I wanted but, on that day, I think the efforts I had been putting in for the past few weeks paid off. I felt a lot more confident going up the hill."

She has continued to put in the miles on local roads this week before leaving for Valkenburg today.

"I've been doing the same kind of efforts I have been putting in for the last few weeks, but not quite as many," she added. "It's been a case of early nights and lots of rest, too."

Tomorrow will bring a first look at the championship course and then thoughts turn to race action and the key final hours before the afternoon start.

"It is quite a short race, one of the shortest I've done this year, so I'll probably do a bit more of a warm-up because it is going to be hard straight from the off with of the type of course it is," said the national circuit race champion.

"I might even go for a spin in the morning. On the day, before a race, I still like to talk to people. Some riders like to have their earphones in all morning.

"I leave it to 15 minutes before heading for my warm-up. I always listen to Eminem's 'Lose Yourself' – that is when I get in the zone."

How the race pans out is anybody's guess, but ODP coach Matt Winston acknowledged that the five-strong GB squad face a testing day.

"We have a couple of scenarios that we will be working towards and hoping for a steadier race up the climbs, as from the top of the last hill it is 1.5km to the finish," he said.

"If Lucy manages to get over that last climb in the lead group then we will be looking to set it up for her to defend her title with a sprint for the line.

"If the race is hard with lots of attacks, it will be a race for the climbers and has the potential to finish in very small groups."

One thing is for sure – Garner will give her all in defending the jersey.

Then one way or another, there will be good cause to celebrate afterwards.

Cycling: Lucy Garner aims to show a clean pair of heels in world title defence


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