Cycling: Golden girl Lucy Garner is simply the best
Nobody could possibly have predicted that 2012 would see county cycling star Lucy Garner improve on her exceptional achievements of the previous year.
The 18-year-old from Cosby had, after all, rounded off 2011 by being crowned world junior road-race champion. Yet that proved just an appetiser to the feast of success she was to serve up during the course of 2012.
Having captured both the British and European junior road titles for the first time, Garner retained the world championship in Holland just a day after her 18th birthday.
There was a first senior road title, too, as she sprinted home in the National circuit race at Sheffield.
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On the track she demonstrated her versatility with a brace of European junior gold medals, the National junior points jersey and, for good measure, the pursuit and Madison crowns at the National senior championships.
Little wonder, then, that as the former Countesthorpe College student ended her junior days with the Node4-Giordana squad, the big guns were waiting in the wings and in October it was announced that the girl who began competing as a nine-year-old with Leicestershire Road Club would join the professional ranks with the Dutch-based Argos-Shimano team.
Preparations are already well underway for the coming season but here the 'Cosby Express' takes a breather between training camps to recall her top six performances from a breath-taking year.
Manchester, September 27
"The main people who normally win this title weren't there after the Olympics but, for me, it was the first 3k pursuit that I had ridden and it is always nice to win something like that.
"Now I can be quite positive the next time I do one. I know the times weren't great but I got some good feedback from the way I rode. All the training and work on bigger gears paid off."
Anadia, portugal, July 6
"To be honest this was a total shock! I wasn't expecting it at all.
"All we were aiming for in Portugal was the team pursuit and I was thrown into the scratch race to give me some more experience during the rest of the week!
"It was hard for Amy (GB team-mate Amy Roberts) because she really wanted to get a medal and missed out. But it was just a case of her being in the right place at the right time to help me. I really felt I had proved myself on the track."
South Wales, May 12
"This meant a lot to me. Because I had won the world title in 2011 it was almost as if I felt I had to win this one. If you can't win your national title why are you wearing the world champion's jersey? It was very nerve-wracking beforehand because there were so many strong girls in the junior ranks that anything could happen. I was happy to win on that course."
Anadia, Portugal, September 27
"Ever since I joined (British Cycling's) Talent Team we had worked on the team pursuit. So when we missed out on a medal in 2011 it was a knock.
"To get fourth and not get a medal was not a nice feeling. So to go back to Portugal and win the gold medal is something that we will all remember."
Zeeland, Holland, August 12
"I'd missed out on the Europeans in 2011 but knew this course was made for me because it was so flat. If I was on form I felt I could do well – at the world championships a month later I wasn't expected to do so well because the course didn't really suit me.
"It was just me and Emily Kay in the Great Britain team, which made it harder. To win was an amazing feeling."
Valkenburg, Holland, September 21
"This was the best by far! Having won in Denmark in 2011 I wanted to show that I was stronger a year later – and you can't do better than winning again.
"I was nervous and put a lot of pressure on myself going into the race.
"It was emotional, too, and I think that showed as I came across the line.
"Having the whole team working for me during the race and Elinor Barker, who had won the time trial a couple of days before, leading me out was very special."