Asked if this was her biggest win yet after sprinting to first place of the Women’s Tour, 22-year-old Hannah Barnes says “yes”.
The United Healthcare rider is beaming, it’s her fifth UCI win of the season, and it’s only June.
She’s won Stage Five of the Women’s Tour – a climby ride from Marlow to Hemel Hempstead, sweeping through the Chilterns.
She’s not been a classic climber in the past, but tells us: “I’ve been focusing on my climbing quite a lot this winter and [today] I just made sure I was always in a good position going in to the bottom of the climbs, and I just always made sure i was on the right side of the split.”
The climbs are short, British ‘power climbs’ and she added: “I knew it was going to be hard around here [in the Chilterns] … I kind of knew what climbs to expect… They weren’t the Alps so i knew it was going to be 4, 5 minute efforts, as hard as i could, and then it would all just calm down a bit.”
After four years riding without a coach, she’s now training under the care of Jenny Gretton and says: “She’s really helped me improve this year and it’s nice to have structure. This was the biggest aim of the year and i’m really happy to have pulled it off.”
The sprint into the finish featured roundabouts and traffic islands, presenting extra challenges, Barnes explained: “I got boxed with about 300 metres to go but thankfully it kind of opened up for me and i was able to open up my sprint.”
Her United Healthcare team are based in America, and she was proud to show them her home country – saying: “You do realise how English we are when you’ve been in America for three months .. I love bringing my team mates over here. The team were really, really useful, we’re normally used to the American peloton and huge wide roads, so it adds a little bit… it’s very different racing here – but it was good, every has really helped me out.”
Barnes’ parents were following the entire race, at the finish line of each stage. Her mum told us: “She does get better as the time goes on. We weren’t sure about the climbing today but she lives in Girona over the winter so perhaps that helped. We are just so proud.”
Her Granny added: “[Hannah gets her strength] from all of us,” her mother adding: “Her grandad was a great time trialist so perhaps she gets her talent from him.”