Cycling: Garner, 17, wins gold with nerve of veteran

 

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The Independent Online

There was proof aplenty in Denmark yesterday that Britain's sprinting talent does not begin and end with Mark Cavendish as 17-year-old Lucy Garner outpowered the pack for GB's first gold medal of the 2011 World Road Championships and Andrew Fenn took bronze from another bunch dash in the U-23 men's race.

Despite bleeding profusely from her left knee following one of the numerous crashes in the morning's wind-buffeted 70-kilometre race, Leicester-born Garner outclassed the opposition with a cleverly calculated two-phase sprint.

The Briton first moved up to fifth in the string of leading riders, paused briefly, then stormed across the line a good ten metres ahead of the field for Britain's first junior women's road title since Welshwoman Nicole Cooke won back-to-back titles in 2000 and 2001.

Clinching Britain's fourth medal of the 2011 Worlds – and not in a category in which GB were among the pre-race favourites – came just a few days after Garner had celebrated her 17th birthday, but the coolness with which she handled the final sprint was worthy of a veteran.

"I just bided my time as I knew I couldn't go early," Garner said. "With 150 metres to go, I finally went for it."

Fenn then added a fifth medal to Britain's tally in a tricky bunch sprint in the afternoon as Frenchmen Arnaud Demare and Adrien Petit scooped gold and silver in a faultless dual acceleration.

Petit guided Demare to within 75 metres of the line, then hung on as his team-mate lunged past, with Fenn ably fending off Rudiger Selig for bronze.

Two bunch sprints in the first two road races will raise hopes for a repeat scenario for Cavendish on Sunday, but team-mate Bradley Wiggins warned the Manxman will have to pull out all the stops to take GB's first men's road-race title in 35 years.

"It's the world title and it's going to take the ride of his life to do it," Wiggins said. "For Mark, winning Tour de France stages is a bit of a routine and it's going to be a lot harder than that here.

"He says he's in the form of his life. I suppose that remains to be seen, but if he's ever going to win, this is the year."

Meanwhile in today's racing Lizzie Armistead could add another gold to Britain's tally in the senior women's race even before Cavendish swings into action in Sunday's 260-kilometre senior men's event.

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