Peloton Watch
  Lucy Kennedy ready for challenge of European racing  
  June 22nd 2017  
  Lucy Kennedy on her way to the 2017 Oceania time trial title. Photo: Adrian Marshall  
  In three years Lucy Kennedy has made the transition from a former track and cross-country runner to one of Australia's top cyclists. After a breakout performance finishing second at the Tour of Bright in 2015, Kennedy has taken Cycling Australia's Subaru National Road Series by storm the last two years. Overall victory at the National Capital Tour and numerous stage wins and GC podiums have seen her cement herself as a name to watch.

Following a podium finish behind Olympians Katrin Garfoot and Amanda Spratt at the Australian Championships Kennedy added the Oceania time trial title to her palmares in early 2017.

A latecomer to cycling the 28-year-old holds a double degree in Civil Engineering and Commerce and has been awarded the Gillett Scholarship for 2017. Kennedy will head to Europe with the Australian Women's Development Team in July for a two month racing block where she is hoping to continue her development racing some of the best in the world.

You were a runner how did the switch to cycling happen?

I was living and studying in the US to run track and cross-country in the NCAA system. This was an awesome experience but I struggled a lot with injury. When I came home for the US summer break in 2011 it became apparent I wouldn't be running for a long time so I decided not to go back. I tried for a few years to return to running, but it was like fighting a brick wall - I just kept getting injured. I tried riding a bike, initially just as cross training, but got hooked. I rode more and more, eventually started some local racing and the rest is history.

One of your early races was the Tour of Bright in 2015 where you finished second overall is that when you first thought you could be successful in cycling?

Tour of Bright was definitely a confidence-builder. I knew climbing was my strength having won the mountain jersey at Tour of the King Valley earlier that year, but Bright was my first chance to race on some proper climbs. Winning the stage to Tawonga Gap over some strong climbers was by far my biggest result at that point and it did make me start thinking about what I might be capable of.

Won the National Capital Tour last year and have several other GC podiums and stage wins to your name how have you found racing the Cycling Australia Subaru National Road Series?

I felt like I made a big step up in the second half of 2016, having had a bit more training and racing under my belt. The Subaru National Road Series has been a great environment for me to develop. Without a long history on the bike, it's not too overwhelming to come into, but it's still high quality racing with a range of different race types, varying terrain and strong competition. I've been fortunate to be on the High5 Dream Team since 2016, where I've been able to learn an enormous amount from more experienced teammates and staff in a highly supported team environment.

Lucy Kennedy on the podium after claiming bronze at the 2017 Australian Road Championships. Photo: John Veage

Bronze medallist at the Australian Championships behind Katrin Garfoot and Amanda Spratt and ahead of a lot of experienced riders what did it mean to stand in the podium?

Standing on the podium at Nationals in such esteemed company was a truly special moment. I knew I was in my best form coming into it and dreamed of a podium finish, but didn't realistically think it would happen this year. I had a disappointing time trial a couple of days earlier, when a mechanical problem lost me significant time, so I was really motivated to show my form in the road race.

You were awarded the Amy Gillett Scholarship for 2017 what does it mean to join the likes for former recipients including Jessie MacLean, Carla Ryan, Rachel Neylan, Jessica Allen and Carlee Taylor?

It still feels a bit surreal that I've now been added to that list. All of those women have gone on to do great things on and off the bike. It is such an honour to be given this opportunity and I plan to make the most of every experience that comes with it. The Amy Gillett Foundation does such important work in improving road safety for cyclists and I'm thrilled to be able to be a part of it.

Lucy Kennedy after winning the 2016 National Capital Tour: Photo: Con Chronis

After being a dominant force in Australia the last two years you head to Europe with the Australian Women's Development Team an important next step in your career? What are you most looking forward to?

I'm excited to challenge myself against the best cyclists in the world in some really tough races. Teamwork will be more important than ever in the European peloton and I'm looking forward to taking on a variety of roles to help the team achieve strong results.

Some tough races including on the World Tour and racing against the best in the world what do you think the biggest challenges will be?

Without doubt, navigating the big pelotons on much more technical courses than I'm used to in Australia will be the biggest challenge. Everyone who has made the step tells you how different it is, but I'm sure I won't fully understand it until I'm there amongst it.

At the end of your European racing what do you hope to have achieved?

I hope to be much more comfortable in the peloton and to feel like I was able to perform to my capability. I hope to have made valuable contributions to achieve results, whether for the team or myself.

Outside cycling you are a civil engineer how do you combine that with training and racing?

I have a double degree in Civil Engineering and Commerce and work as a Traffic Modeller for Transurban. It is challenging to manage working almost full time while training and racing and is only possible with a highly supportive employer. Management at Transurban are not only flexible in allowing me to chase this dream, but celebrate my success along the way. I've been very lucky to be able to progress both my careers at the same time.
 © 2016