Lucy Kennedy: A fresh, but wiser, start.Thu 8 Nov 2018
They say your biggest lessons come from your toughest challenges, that even if you fall down seven times you must get back up eight. The numbers might be slightly off but for the resilient Lucy Kennedy, it’s a fair summary of her debut season with Mitchelton-SCOTT.
Now 30, Kennedy was a latecomer to the sport of cycling. The Queenslander first got on a bike at 24 and, with the help of her elite physical ability, she joined the Australian outfit this year via the esteemed Amy Gillet Scholarship program.
After a rollercoaster ride of extreme highs and painful lows, the end of her inaugural season and a contract extension for 2019 is the chance for a fresh new start, but not from the same position she was in 12months prior.
Riding the rollercoaster:
When you pack up and jet across to Europe, leaving a job and family behind, there’s little doubt there will be some turbulence along the way. Just how much, Kennedy would soon find out.
Strong performances throughout the Australian season, including a silver medal at the time trial and a strong opening road race with the Mitchelton-SCOTT outfit at the Australian Championships, and fourth overall behind teammate Amanda Spratt at the Tour Down Under did little to settle the excitement and potential for the year ahead.
Across to Europe and a fifth place at Strade Bianche, in horrific conditions, continued the momentum.
“The very early season was a real highlight for me,” Kennedy described. “My results at Strade Bianche and Trofeo Binda, in horrible conditions, far exceeded my expectations so gave me a good confidence boost heading into the season.”
The tides shifted following a crash at Amstel Gold Race and subsequent hard work to return in time for the Giro Rosa, the big goal for the season, only to crash out again.
“Not long later it all turned badly, with a series of serious crashes that resulted in time in hospital, a couple of surgeries, long recoveries and time off racing.”
“I remained motivated through these though and trained really hard to make sure I was in good form when I could eventually race again.”
Testament to her resilience, Kennedy finished the season with a debut national selection for the world championships, where she played a key support role for teammate and silver medallist Spratt, before also winning the Taiwan KOM Challenge.
“The hard work paid off and I was able finish the season well, having good races at the World Championships, supporting Spratty to her silver medal, and then through Tour of Guangxi and the Taiwan KOM Challenge.”
Starting again fresh, but with wisdom:
You can’t keep a strong women down, and Kennedy is built tough. Throughout more ups and downs than you care to think is possible in your first full year based in Europe, she never gave up hope or motivation.
Always with the next target front of mind, hard times were overcome and lessons were learnt.
With a new year comes a new season, packed full of new opportunities. It’s a chance to reset for Kennedy, but the education of 2018 will make her an even more formidable force when that first race back arrives.
“I'm approaching 2019 as both a progression and a fresh start.
“2018 was unfortunately largely defined by crashes, so a new season is an opportunity to leave all that behind.
“Despite that, I still learned a lot of valuable lessons in 2018 that I'll use next year, and the final part of the season felt like that start of a progression that I'll continue when we start racing again in January.”
Finding comfort amongst the pain:
There’s no doubt Kennedy has the physical ability and mental capacity for the top level of women’s cycling. You just have to look back at her support role at her debut world championships or her fifth place at Strade Bianche, Kennedy driving the front of the bunch up a climb is a sight to be seen.
The technical aspect of racing is the next step, and a natural one given her late introduction to competitive cycling. This is the focus for 2019.
“As someone who hasn't been racing a bike a long time, the biggest challenge for me is trying to get comfortable in the peloton in the biggest races. My main goal for 2019 is to find that comfort in the peloton and be involved and active in every race I do.
“I know that I'm physically very capable of being a big part of races and I just need to refine my race craft.
“I particularly aim to be there at the pointy end of really tough races like the Ardennes classics and the Giro, helping the team to even bigger results than this season.”
Date of Birth: 11th July 1988 (30)
Place of Birth: Brisbane, Queensland
Turned Pro: 2018
2018 Top Results:
- 2nd Giro d'Italia Femminile - Stage 1 (TTT)
- 2nd National Championships Australia - Time Trial
- 2nd Santos Women's Tour - Stage 2
- 5th Strade Bianche
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.