Megan Guarnier has had an incredible year. That much is undeniable. Most notably, the Boels-Dolmans rider won the inaugural Women’s World Tour by gaining victory in a string of high profile and varied races including the Giro Rosa, Tour of California and the Philadelphia Cycling Classic as well as winning her third National Road Race title.
Her achievements won her the first ever Voxwomen ‘Voxy Road Rider of the Year’ award – which was decided by a panel of journalists and experts and presented at the Rouleur Classic on Saturday. She knows she’s made quite an impression over the course of the year.
Asked if this success creates unwanted pressure ahead of the 2017 season, or simply fuels her fire to achieve more, she tells me: “I look at [having won the WWT] as giving me confidence going in to next year. It’s been a really hard season and it’s an honour to have won the World Tour. But if you always set your expectations so high, it becomes unrealistic.”
Performing to a similar level next year is probably not ‘unrealistic’ – but Guarnier’s attitude to cycling has always been unmistakably modest, yet undeniably driven. Her goal is always her own self-improvement. If that happens to mean beating everyone else, and winning – that’s a bonus. She focuses on the controllable – and that is making herself better. Commenting on her ultimate career goal, she tells me: “As far as an end goal, every day I just try to go and be better. When I feel like I’ve reached the best I can be, that’s the end goal.”
“There’s nothing I could have done more [at the Olympics], to get a better result, and that’s a part of the sport. But it also is the beauty of the sport, too.”
Despite this refreshing approach, Guarnier did still suffer some disappointment this year when she didn’t place as she’d hoped at the Rio Olympics, coming just outside the Top 10. However, her understanding of the controllable and the uncontrollable still helped her to move on from a race that didn’t end as she’d hoped. She tells me: “[The fact that you can’t control everything] is something you learn quite quickly in bike racing. No matter how good of a day you have, anything can happen. That’s a beautiful part of our sport, but it’s also a very difficult part of our sport. Especially coming out of the Olympics, that’s a difficult thing for you to get your head around – for me to get my head around. There’s nothing I could have done more, to get a better result.”
She adds, clearly having addressed the matter in her own mind carefully: “This year I was so focused on the Olympics – and with that I didn’t succeed, but I had an incredible year. And I can’t let that one race overshadow my year or my career.”