Cycling: Garner beats odds to land European glory
The odds were hardly in Lucy Garner's favour as she lined up for the European junior road-race championship in Holland on Sunday.
The world junior champion was there to be shot at in Zeeland against Europe's best riders.
And with Bromsgrove's Emily Kay the only team-mate in the 106-strong field, it was little wonder that the 'Cosby Express' admitted to feeling more than a little nervous.
But the Node4-Giordana rider relishes a challenge and she powered home at the end of the 80km race to take the gold medal, adding to her world, Commonwealth and British crowns.
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Recording a time of 2hr 7min 5sec, Garner beat Italian Anna Stricker into second place with Holland's Kirsten Coppens third.
Kay was caught up in a late crash but, thankfully, avoided injury and came home in 21st place.
It was Garner's day again, however, as she added to the two gold medals she won in Portugal at the European junior track championships. This year has also brought her the national senior circuit race title in Sheffield.
"Winning the world championship was amazing but to win the European title feels so good," she said.
"The main riders in the world are always up there in Europe so the race was definitely world-standard.
"I was really nervous – we both were. There were only the two of us against some teams with eight riders in, so we didn't know how it was going to pan out.
"But the race all stayed together so we didn't have to do much chasing.
"Everybody went for any attacks that got away. One (attack) got 15 seconds on the last lap but that was brought back because people were getting ready for the sprint and the pace was high."
The sprint was where Garner wanted to be and, true to form, her kick for the line saw her home.
"You never know what is going to happen," she said. "I've been in races when I have felt strong but someone pips you on the line. Everybody started sprinting about 300m to go. That is too early for me but I still had to go with them. 200-250m is where I like to hit it hard.
"I didn't know that I was going to win until about one or two bike lengths out.
"When I got over the line it was just relief because I had been so nervous!"
Matt Winston, who coaches both Garner and Kay on British Cycling's Olympic development programme added: "Lucy showed great tactical skill to keep herself at the front of the field.
"There were only two British girls in the race and, with some strong nations fielding eight riders, they were heavily marked.
"Lucy led the sprint and held everyone off to the finish. I'm very happy with the performance of the girls."