Grace Garner is one of the newest editions to the black and orange train of Wiggle High5. She joins the team – which is also home to her sister Lucy Garner - having come from Podium Ambition, the UCI pro team led by Dame Sarah Storey that sadly folded at the end of 2016.
Over the course of the year, the 19-year-old managed to secure the overall win of the Matrix Fitness Tour Series, which is broadcast all over the UK. Still “finding her feet" as an elite, she managed a few top 20s in international races that she hopes to build on this year.
Tomorrow – on Saturday 14 January – the youngster from Leicester launches her 2017 campaign, riding the four day Santos Women’s Tour Down Under alongside Aussie and long term signing Annette Edmondson, plus Mayuko Hagiwara and Amy Roberts. Garner will not be the only Wiggle High5 rider breaking in her Wiggle High5 kit in Australia, with new signings Amy Cure and Julie Leth also on the Tour Down Under roster.
Speaking about her hopes for the year ahead, Garner commented: “It’s my first season with the team, so I’ll definitely be a domestique and helping out in the races I ride. I am predominantly a sprinter so hopefully I will help the main sprinters be where they need to be in the vital parts of the races and be involved in the lead outs."
We caught up with Grace for a quick question and answer session before the race...
What would make 2017 a great year for you?
I think being a part of a successful victory would make 2017 a great year. I want my contributions towards the team to help to successes, and also to become another year stronger and more experienced.
What’s your go-to snack during a hard training session?
I like to make my own energy balls and rice cakes. I know what’s going in to them and know they sit well in my stomach. I base my energy balls with almonds and dried dates, and then add whatever I have in the cupboard. My favourite recipe is to add fresh banana and strawberries; I have a sweet tooth.
Where is your favourite training destination?
I had an amazing January this year in Gran Canaria. It is such a spectacular place, the scenery takes your mind off the hours of climbing! In the UK I like to train with my boyfriend when I visit Yorkshire. He is originally from West Yorkshire so there are some really tough rides there, the hours go by a lot faster than at home in Leicester.
How many QOM’s do you own?
I don’t actually have Strava! I had it when I was a junior and I think I owned one up the mall when I raced Prudential ride London. I’m sure that’s gone now though after the even becoming such a high profile race.
What other sports or cross training do you do?
I love to incorporate weights into my program. I really enjoy pushing myself in the gym. I also try out a lot of classes; Fight Klub was my most recent! I also love going to Zumba every now and then. I can’t dance to save my life but I pretend no one can see me and I always have a fun session!
Relaxed ride stop drinks - coffee connoisseur or a classic cup of tea?
I love coffee, so when I stop at a café I will also opt for the coffee when I’m riding. At home I try a lot of herbal teas and swear by chamomile tea when I’m ill. But being British, I will never say no to a good strong cup of Yorkshire tea! And there is no denying I love a slice of cake!
What is your pre-race breakfast favourite?
Porridge is my go to pre-race breakfast. I find it really easy to digest, and it’s great in a stage race as you can change the toppings so it doesn’t get so repetitive.
Rollers or turbo for the warm up?
Always rollers. As a youth and junior I was part of the British Cycling performance program, and we all used rollers to warm up on. I think it sort of became a habit to use rollers to warm up on, but I think it works really well for me. My muscles don’t seem to take long to warm up, so I don’t seem to need so much resistance. I think as I grow older and stronger I will experiment with using a turbo more to warm up with.
Favourite song/artist on the warm up playlist?
I don’t really have a specific song or playlist I warm up to, but something with a good beat is a good place to start.
Where’s your favorite country to race in?
I struggle climbing; I think it’s mostly more of a mental challenge for me, as I know I ride well on climbs I know well. So I would have to say Holland, it’s known for flat terrain and I can use my strength in the wind and fighting for position rather then going uphill! I love the aggression and the buzz in a tightly packed peloton.
- Racing Stats
- Calories burned in a race: 1000+ calories in a typical 140km road race
- Max wattage: 999 watts
What’s in your feed bag at a race?
Gels and bottles with mix. I like gels in races as they are so easy to eat and I like to get some calories from the mix in my bottles. The worst thing is eating a chewy bar at the wrong moment of the race! I also tried some of my homemade energy balls in races this year. It worked well but it’s hard to make enough to take away with you to races.
What’s your go to recovery shake or food?
Most of the time I don’t feel like eating straight away so a high protein drink it always the best thing. I like to eat fruit as they are easy carbs to digest post race. My favorite recovery aid is massage. It’s not always available, so I use compression and foam roller. Lying with my legs elevated I’ve always found good too.
Check out this video with Grace and the other two new Wiggle High5 joiners who will race the tour down under, below...