American rider Megan Guarnier leads the UCI Women’s World Tour (WWT) in its inaugural year, having collected a jaw dropping 886 points to sit on the top step ahead of her World Champion team mate Lizzie Armitstead on 545.
Since the beginning of the season, the 31-year-old has reclaimed her National Road Race title, won the Tour of California and the Giro Rosa general classifications. The latter being a title she’s steadily worked her way towards, having taken third place last year.
“[At the start of this season] I would have never thought that we would have been in this situation [with me leading the WWT].”
Her achievements have been huge. And no one is more surprised than the Boels-Dolmans rider herself. Giggling at the happy seeming accident, she tells me: “[At the start of this season] I would have never thought that we would have been in this situation [with me leading the WWT]. But I guess the people around me are much less surprised than me. They’re like: ‘of course, Megan’. So I think the people around me have a better view of the situation than I do at some points.”
Guarnier’s rise to World Tour leader has clearly not been an accident. Her success is more accurately referred to as the product of years of hard graft, determination, and a refusal to give up. The temptation might have reared its head when Gaurnier missed out on Olympic selection in 2012 – despite being the National Road Race Champion at the time, but she didn’t give in. Four years on and she’s well and truly going to Rio, something that’s been a dream since she was five years old.
For me, the results never came fast enough. Leading the Women’s World Tour or winning the Giro Rosa doesn’t feel that different for me.”
Looking back over her career thus far, she tells me: “For me, the results never came fast enough. Leading the Women’s World Tour or winning the Giro Rosa doesn’t feel that different for me. It just feels like a natural progression of things that I just attribute to my coaches’ overall view of my training and progression. I was always just trying to take the next step and be a bit better each year – and that started way back in 2008 when I began working with Corey [Corey Hart – Guarnier’s coach].”
Speaking about her discomfort and frustration when the results ‘never seemed to come fast enough’ she tells me: “Of course when you’re putting in the hours and putting in the time, you hope that you win bike races. But that’s not at all what happens. It takes a lot of work and a lot of failures to learn how to be successful and to learn how to use your strengths in bike racing. With Corey he had a lot of time with me on the phone, just asking ‘why am I not winning?’ and ‘why am I not on the podium’? and ‘what am I doing wrong’? And it’s just believing in the process and believing that I would get better. And at the same time it was frustrating for years, but that’s what makes you grow and makes you want to keep training, keep getting better and keep learning.”