From Junior World Champion to Business Owner

interview with Lucy van de Haar, by guest contributor Lucy Ingram of Peloton Inside Out

In 2020, following seven years as a professional cyclist, Lucy van de Haar (née Garner) transitioned away from elite sport to run her own beauty salon. She left with her head held high with two junior world road championships and a women’s Tour of Dubai win to her name.

Now, she spends a lot less time on two wheels, a lot more time painting nails, and she couldn’t be happier.

Knowing when it’s time to stop

Despite it being difficult to announce to her team, Lucy knew it was the right time to say farewell to the sport she’d begun competing in sixteen years ago as an amateur for Leicestershire Road Club.

As for many athletes, the pandemic caused a change in perspective for her. Lucy realised that not only was she enjoying the time off the bike and away from the constant pressure to train, but also that she didn’t miss racing.

Fortunately, Lucy had been considering a next step for some time, one that would aligned with one of her other passions.

Balancing entrepreneurship and life as an athlete

Lucy started her business, Lucy’s Beauty Room, in December of 2019. Unbeknownst to her, this would be particularly challenging as it was just before the beginning of the pandemic. However, this had its blessings in some ways as she was able to make the transition from cyclist to business owner gradually. She split her time between training, racing and working, before making the decision to depart professional cycling fully in 2020. Lucy explains,

“It seemed to work well for me. It made it easier for me to be my own boss. I was able to choose days and times alongside training and racing.”

Ideas for a beauty business had actually been percolating throughout all her years on the bike. It’s proved to be time in the saddle well spent! Lucy tells me,

“I’ve always loved doing nails. Me and my younger sister, who also does nails as her job, always painted each other’s nails ever since I remember. Whenever we had a big competition we made sure our nails were painted. So it’s really nice to think we made our hobby into our work.”

Lucy’s experiences in sport set her up well for the multiple challenges that come with setting up your own business. Her experiences of the ups and downs of professional sport and everything that comes with that: working towards a goal, other’s expectations of your performance and things not quite going as you expected, gave her solid foundations to work from. Lucy says it wasn’t easy, but perseverance got her through:

“I have always been a determined person and this was a big passion of mine. I wanted to try and make it my work.

You never know when you start your own business how it is going to go but I really had the same mindset as when I had a big race coming up.

You’re nervous to see how it is going to go but I know I put all my energy and effort into making it a success and I’m proud to say it has worked and I love my work.”

Finding her new normal

Despite loving her work, there have been other areas of transitioning that have been a struggle. For Lucy the main challenge has been knowing what is ‘normal’ now in terms of exercise. She explains,

“When I first stopped I put so much pressure on myself to stay as fit as possible, but with working nearly full time it just took it out of me and I had no energy to exercise. Over time I realised that’s ok. I’ve actually learnt to listen to my body more now than when I was a professional, which is pretty crazy actually.

Now I know it’s ok not to ride. In the beginning that was hard to process.

What I’ve come to realise is that there is no normal. I still really enjoy riding my bike so now whenever I have a free day or at the weekend I ride with my husband and love it!”

Successfully navigating this challenge has meant Lucy’s now getting into the swing of things and is able to fully embrace the joys of being retired. She excitedly explains,

“The best thing about it is not having to say “no” all the time. With racing and training I had to sacrifice so much in terms of family events, days out with friends, holidays and it feels so good to be able to say yes and not have the worry in the back of my mind of ‘Oh, I shouldn’t be standing up for this long as I’ve got a hard session tomorrow’ or ‘I need to leave early because of racing at the weekend’.”

Lucy’s learnings from her transition

Lucy’s message is clear: “There is a life away from sport and although I had the best time being a professional athlete, I really really love my life now.” Her advice for others coming towards the end of their career is:

Try to figure out what your other passions are before stopping.

“That’s what made it easier for me, so if you have a passion, go for it, study for it. Yes, it may be challenging at times with racing and training but it will be worth it in the end.”

It is ok to feel a bit lost.

“Your sport has been your focus for so long and to feel lost isn’t bad. You will find something that you love and can put your time and passion into again.”

But most importantly, despite all the challenges that lay ahead, as Lucy says,

“You will find your way!”


You can take a look at Lucy’s business here –

or find her on Instagram

LAPS Members can discuss Lucy’s post on our Community page.