After another dominant showing at the nationals time trial where she was essentially racing against herself, Garfoot was outspoken about her struggles with motivation and whether it was worth continuing her career on the bike.
Winning by a minute and 55 seconds over second-placed Shara Gillow, she is in a league of her own against the clock in Australian fields and has been very close to winning on the biggest world stage as well, with fourth and thord respectively in the last two world championships. Nonetheless, it doesn’t change the pre-race nerves.
“The pressure was on,” Garfoot said. “Even though I try and not let it get to me but it was there and I was nervous, wondering if I could do it again.
“You never know how fit the others are at the start of the year and I didn’t know how fit I was really. It was such a short training block from the worlds and I was just hoping that it all came together today and it did.”
When asked what it meant for her to win her second time trial title, Garfoot was frank about her thoughts and motivation going into the event.
“How political can I get here? It does mean a lot to me, after the Olympics, I couldn’t get the result I wanted. Then getting third at Worlds… it was good but just a few seconds off first. In the overall scheme, my third doesn’t count for anything to my funding.
“It’s good to show that I’m worth it and hopefully somewhere down the line someone will acknowledge that.”
Garfoot, like a lot of female riders, accepts partial funding from the AIS as a supported athlete in addition to the money from her trade team Orica-Scott. However, that doesn’t always add up to much, with many elite riders on the women’s scene struggling to make ends meet and remain competitive.
“It’s just in an Olympic year that the World Championships don’t count, so I could have come first in the world championships and not got any funding out of it, which I think is a bit… average. I represent a company and don’t get the support to improve myself. I’m a bit angry about that.”
“At my age, ancient, you wonder why you are doing this. You wonder if you should get screaming children and settle down, family and all that.
“I weigh it all up, I don’t get superannuation, I’m on little pay. How much can I ask my husband to support me? I don’t see him for half the year, he’s very supportive but how long can he do that for?”
The management at Orica-Scott have high hopes for Garfoot this year, the first goal of defending her time trial title is ticked off now and a road race win looks a distinct possibility based on her current form.
Sports Director Gene Bates was effusive in his praise for the naturalised Australian, who went to Europe as a raw talent, spending the last few seasons getting used to positioning herself in the peloton so she can challenge at the pointy end of races.
“It’s been a very interesting pathway to follow from my position,” Bates said, “it’s been very exciting. I don’t think we’ve seen anything nearly like what she’s got to offer, in my eyes she’s an untapped resource. In other areas, not just the time trial.”
Certainly, Garfoot has shown that she has the power to excel in other races, not just the race against the clock, she’s not a heavy rider and has shown that she can be effective in major hilly races in Europe like the GP Plouay and Elsy Jacobs.
“I’m still sorting out the motivation a bit after last year. I guess we’ll all sit down and look at the goals, the Giro (for the general classification) might be a big one,” Garfoot said.
“Experience does it and I think I’ve got the experience now to pull it off. I pulled it off at the Tour Down Under (where she won the overall), won a stage in Qatar and in Luxembourg I was pretty good.
“I’ve never done climbing efforts, it has been TT efforts until now so maybe it’s time to change.”
With the strange mix of big ambitions and thoughts of quitting, Garfoot will be one of the key riders to keep an eye on throughout the season.
Arguably Australia’s most talented rider at the moment, it would be a big loss to the sport if she hung up her wheels.