Peloton Watch
  Grace Garner looking to carry Tour Series form in to Aviva Women's Tour  
  June 10th 2016  
  Grace Garner celebrates winning round 5 of Matrix Fitness GP Series in Croydon. Photo: SweetSpot
  In just her second UCI race as a professional Grace Garner lined up at Ronde van Vlaanderen, the biggest one day race on the calendar, just days after her professional debut at the Pajot Hills Classic. While the 18 year old might not have finished either, the experience against some of the worlds best helped her to finish 20th at Grand Prix de Dottignies the following day just a few spots behind older sister Lucy.

Garner's Podium Ambition Pro Cycling p/b Club La Santa team has eased her in to racing at the top of the sport with a mix of UCI events as well as plenty of domestic racing in Britain. She claimed the opening stage of the Alexandra Women's Tour of the Reservoir in April but the past month has seen Garner produce consistent results at The Matrix Fitness Women's Grand Prix Series.

A crash in the opening round left Garner unable to challenge for victory but in the five remaining rounds, Garner has never been far from the front. Following third, fourth and fifth in the next three rounds, she claimed a dominant sprint win in round five in Croydon having earlier been on the attack. Only a solo Jessica Roberts in the final round could deprive Garner a second win as she took the bunch sprint for second. Garner's consistency across the rounds earned her the overall title as well as helping Podium Ambition to the team classification.

With the Tour Series now at a close for 2016, Garner turns her attention back to the Women's World Tour for the Aviva Women's Tour, racing with the Great Britain National team.

Raced Ronde van Vlaanderen in April how did you find it and do you think the experience gained in your first year is going to benefit you in the future?

It was a mega experience to take part in Flanders. One of my first races of the season so I wasn't on great form but it was just an amazing time! It was great to see what the level is which in the future I aim to be competing at. It will definitely benefit me in the future. It already has done!

You had been on the attack during the Croydon Tour Series how did the last few laps go and how were you feeling coming in to the finish?

I didn't plan on making an attack but it was an opportunity to show the colours of the team and pick up some sprint points along the way. I knew I had good legs and my sprint is pretty good at the minute so knew I had a good chance.

How did the final sprint play out?

It went well, the pace was high coming into the final few laps and I just kept near the front, it was a really short straight with a fast corner so I just kept in second wheel and managed to come round in the final.

Your first Tour Series win how did it feel crossing the line and what did it mean to you?

It felt really good. I'd been quite consistent but never won one so it was nice to know I've got some speed in my legs. It's a good sign of progress and it was nice to break up the road block with some speed work.

Grace Garner on the podium as overall winner of Matrix Fitness GP Series. Photo: SweetSpot

Won the bunch sprint for second at the final round in Portsmouth to make it five top five finishes in a row giving you the overall individual victory. What does it mean to you?

It was great to finish with the overall win. I was unfortunate in the first round to crash out but nice to be consistently up there. It was just great that I could do it for the team. We have a good history in the Tour Series and it was brilliant to add to the teams success.

You have been selected in the Great Britain team for the Aviva Women's Tour what does it mean to ride a second World Tour race as a first year professional particularly on home soil?

I'm really proud to be part of team GB. In my first year it's a massive opportunity to be part of the team. I'm so excited to be riding in a Great Britain jersey on home soil. I'm going to soak up every second and just can't wait!

A much stronger field than at the Tour Series with many of the top riders in the world are you able to take confidence in to the Aviva Women's Tour following your Tour Series results?

I've done a few UCI races now and especially after experiencing Flanders I have some sort of idea what the racing will be like. I know I can take confidence in my own form and I know I've learnt a lot from experiences already.

Will be the longest race you have done at this level what are you most looking forward to and what do you think the biggest challenge will be?

It's going to be the longest distances covered in a stage race for me. My biggest challenge will be recovery between stages. I will do everything I can to make sure I'm in the best possible shape at the start of each stage. Fuelling right and resting is important. I'm sure we will have a good support crew around us to make the week a lot easier.

What are your goals for Aviva Women's Tour? At the end of the five days what would you consider a successful race for you?

We've not spoken about team goals yet. However I'm sure I will have a role to get the supported riders into position for critical points in the race. At the end of the five days I hope I have fulfilled my job within the team and also been involved and learnt a lot the race.

About half way in to your first year as a professional how are you finding the step up from juniors?

It's a massive step up from the junior category however I've embraced it. It's been a massive challenge physically and mentally but it's still what I want to do and it's really given me motivation to reach my long term goals. It's grown my passion for the sport and the step up has been great so far.
 © 2016