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Cycling: Garner living the dream as she takes another big step


Lucy Garner's dream of competing in the ranks of the world's top women professionals is falling into place piece by piece.

Cosby's double world junior road-race champion signed for the Dutch Argos-Shimano squad last month and will race in their colours next year.

That prospect moved a step closer when the 18-year-old spent five days in the Netherlands meeting her new team-mates and the squad's various sponsors.

On agreeing to join Argos-Shimano, Garner, who won just about everything there is to win during her two stellar seasons as a junior, described them as her "dream team", and nothing she saw during her stay in Apeldoorn altered that opinion.

In fact, with news that she will start her season in South Africa in February, the anticipation has probably been heightened.

"I was there to get everything sorted out for next year," said Garner, the national pursuit champion.

That meant attention to detail from bikes and shoes, even down to the ear-plugs the riders will wear in hotels at night when they are away racing.

"The people on the team were nice and friendly," she said. "I thought it might be a bit scary but I got on with them really well.

"I knew a few people, but not well enough to have a full-on conversation with. It was a case of getting to know everyone – and I know I need to work on my Dutch a bit!"

The female element of the Argos-Shimano squad includes eight other riders from the continent alongside world, European and British junior road champion Garner, who hits the senior ranks as a fully-fledged elite rider at the turn of the year.

"It is a really strong team," she said. "There are a lot of older girls in there with experience and good results behind them."

So, at just 18, how does Garner fit into that team? "I'll be looking at how I can contribute and help people to win races," she said.

"At the moment, I'm concentrating on training and then we will look again in January."

She is under no illusions about the demands racing full-time in Holland will place on her.

"It is going to be difficult because I'm usually the one there for the sprint," she said.

"But, to start with, I might not even be there to help anyone in the sprints. I'm used to staying in races and, although I might be tired at the end, everyone is the same.

"This is going to be a completely different feeling."

The correct training, then, will be vital to help Garner adapt as quickly as possible – something that will not happen overnight, even for a rider of her undoubted quality.

"I'm just coming off a break at the end of the season, so I'm not doing much different, maybe a few more hours," she said.

A week-long training camp in Spain next month will lift the preparations to a new level, before the formal team launch in January. Then Garner can really begin to look forward to what she craves most – getting back into action on the road.

"It is going to be really good experience for me," said the British Cycling Academy star.

"I'm really looking forward to it. I just want to start racing!"

Cycling: Garner living the dream as she takes another big step

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