Sharlotte Lucas stands on the edge of her biggest career move yet, joining TIBCO-SVB in 2019. 4th in this year’s Commonwealth Games road race on the Gold Coast as part of an exceptional New Zealand team that led Georgia Williams to a fantastic silver medal. We caught up with Lucas to talk through the move to TIBCO-SVB and the triumphs and trials that led to the move.
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TIBCO-SVB has been the home of a rich history of Kiwi success with Rushlee Buchanan, Emily Collins and Joanne Kiesanowski all having spent time in the squad. For Lucas following after them is something that she’s very proud of, and the 26 year old is looking forward to getting stuck in and building on the legacy that our Kiwis have already provided
“It’s pretty awesome, it’s cool to be following in their footsteps because they were sort of my idols when I was coming up through the U23 ranks,” Sharlotte told us.
To say that this season has been a rock and roll one for Sharlotte is a bit of an understatement. From a silver medal in the Elite Road Nationals in January to 7th place at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race to bronze in the Oceania Championships time trial and then the gold medal in the road race; plus success over on the American scene with races such as the Tour of America’s Dairyland, there have been a lot of high points to the year.
Intermingled with those though were the challenges that saw Sharlotte staring at non-selection for the Commonwealth Games before finally being selected. Lucas was also left out of the World Championship line up before finally being called up, but the demands of getting to Innsbruck and having to pay her way there at such short notice meant that the Oceania champion opted not to go. When it comes to evaluating what kind of a 2018 Sharlotte’s had, therefore, it starts with the recognition that this year has been possibly the most complicated of her career.
“My achievements were my best yet, so achievement-wise it’s been a good year. But with all those sort of things like appealing [non-selection], being up against it in terms of the Cycling New Zealand processes it made it pretty tough. I certainly feel like I’ve become a lot stronger of a person because of what I’ve had to prove to myself. It’s hardened me up quite a lot.”
The fact that Sharlotte’s biggest achievements – including signing her professional contract with TIBCO-SVB – have happened in her toughest season off the bike is testament to her fighting spirit. And it’s not like Lucas has been able to simply shut off the off-the-bike stuff when she’s jumped onto her machine day by day.
“It [the off-the-bike challenges] really effects it [the training/racing] actually. I remember with the Comm Games stuff going down I lost all motivation to ride because you’re trying to go through the process and it’s quite demoralising and definitely at World Championships it definitely got on top of me again. It was a really tough process to get through and I wouldn’t recommend it!”
To end the season on this note though, with a contract with TIBCO-SVB secured, has been the ideal way to draw a line under the year. “It’s very satisfying. Especially as it came at the right time, because I was going through the World Champs debacle; I signed my contract with TIBCO around that time, it was a major positive which I really needed at that time. So it’s been awesome to get that sorted and get some results racing in New Zealand and Aussie has been cool.”
Now that the past is the past though Lucas is now able to look ahead to the future and to going to a whole other level in her cycling with one of America’s finest UCI World Tour level outfits. “I know that Jo and Emily were at the team for quite a while so that indicates that it’s a good team environment,” Sharlotte said. “So that makes it a big draw card for the team. Obviously they’re all English speaking so that makes it a lot easier. I had European offers from an Italian team, but there’s going to be language barriers and stuff.”
The journey to TIBCO-SVB really got underway when Sharlotte’s results in America began to flow. A combination of that and the UCI points built up earlier in the season during her racing in Australia and New Zealand served to grab the attention of TIBCO-SVB and begin to pave the way for the contract being signed. In America the road race scene and Criterium scene are both very healthy and Lucas was able to utilise her skills in both disciplines in a way contrasted to how a European campaign might have been more exclusively road race focussed. That criterium talent came into its own on our shores when she took third place at the Criterium National Championships in Takapuna.
Heading towards 2019, though, the team are looking to embrace a fuller European season; giving Lucas opportunities to perform at the world’s biggest events. “Our season will start in January with Nationals and then the Tour Down Under,” Lucas explained. “I actually start with the team in March, so I get February to take it easy and prepare for a big season racing in Europe, a big six months.”
Look out for Lucas to be on the hunt to go one better than her silver medal in this year’s Nationals that kick off in just a couple of weeks. We’re looking forward to what 2019 has in store for her and wish her all the best here at RoadCycling.co.nz.