Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Lucy Garner finished a close second place in the bunch sprint at the end of the Women’s Tour de Yorkshire, in the centre of Doncaster, at the end of a tough 136km race. The 21-year-old former two time junior World Champion was beaten by less than a length by Dutch powerhouse Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) after the peloton caught what looked like a race-winning breakaway in the closing kilometres. Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur) finished third.
“It’s a lot better than I expected actually,” said Garner afterwards, “because I’m not 100 percent healthy. So I said the the girls: ‘I really don’t feel good today; you’re just going to have to be patient with me, and see how it goes at the end.’
“Everything came back really well,” she explained. “The girls were so strong in final, just working to get the breakaway back. Then you have to deliver at the end, after they did such a good job!
“I was really, really happy with that!”
The race looked to be over for the sprinters as an early breakaway from Doris Schweitzer (Cylance) was joined by World Champion Lizzie Armitstead (Great Britain) and Leah Kirchmann (Liv-Plantur). The script had Yorkshirewoman Armitstead winning on her home roads, as the trio’s lead grew to more than a minute with 25km to go, but the peloton had other ideas as both Hitec Products and Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling worked hard to close them down.
“We all thought ‘that’s it again, Lizzie’s going to win another race,'” Garner laughed. “But Hitec and Wiggle high5 got together, and they really worked well in the end. It was about three or four km from the finish when they caught them back, and then it was just ‘get my sprint head on!’
“I followed Kirsten because I know she’s going to be there in the final, and that was pretty much it. It was just waiting, waiting, waiting, and then going for it. I wasn’t quick enough to beat Kirsten, but I’m really happy with second.”
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s riders had been based in Yorkshire for much of the week before the race, with numerous media commitments. Garner denied that this had put any extra pressure on her and the team to deliver a result, however, despite being the big British team on the start line.
“I knew it was going to be hard, surviving the climbs, because they were pretty tough and the roads are hard here,” she said. “I was happy with the way I was doing the climbs, but I was just missing that power a bit around the corners and that’s why I was doubting myself a bit for the sprint.
“But I guess that when I sniffed the finish then everything changed! So I’m really over the moon.”
Hailing from Leicester, little more than 100km from the race finish in Doncaster, the Tour de Yorkshire almost felt like a home race for Garner, with some special fans able to make a rare appearance at the roadside.
“I’m so happy that my mum and dad could be here to watch it, because obviously I live in Holland and most of my races are out there in Europe,” Garner smiled. “It was really nice that they could be here, and my mum could take the flowers home. That was really special for me!”
1. Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products)
2. Lucy Garner (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)
3. Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur)