Interview: Hannah Barnes heading to USA


The leading female rider on the road in Britain in 2013, Hannah Barnes has signed for a team in the US, UnitedHealthCare

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The Northamptonshire rider admits “it hasn’t sunk in that this is going to be my job now and I won’t be waitressing! I just can’t wait to get out there. I can’t get over how organised the team are. I’ll have an email every day saying what is happening. It’s just a great set up especially having the men’s team as well.”

It will be Hannah’s first trip to America having never been out of Europe.


Five years ago, at 15, Hannah Barnes, now 20, was winning senior races in the National Series for Women and for a long time, was swapping victories with one of her best friends, double Junior World Champion Lucy Garner. Whilst the latter got a spot in the GB team, Barnes found it tough to get the same respect from the GB team coaches as Lucy did.

Lucy went on and won two Junior world titles whilst Hannah carried on here in Britain. After leaving school, the Northamptonshire rider worked to support herself and then came out at weekends and blitzed anyone who dared beat her in a race. Her success record says she definitely has a talent for racing bikes but a stint in Holland showed her that there was a difference between winning in Britain and doing the same abroad.

It is a challenge though Hannah deserves to be given a chance of meeting head on and signing for the team from the USA at such a young age still, should help her see whether she has what it takes to be among the best in the world. Her director sportif at the new team is a Brit who has settled in the US, Rachel Heal.

Rachel spent many years racing domestically in Britain and with Team GB around the World and now she will be in charge of two of the finest women riders in Britain, Barnes and Sharon Laws. For Hannah, signing for the team is a dream come true.


The team came calling Hannah around a week before the Westminster GP after the British circuit race champion had emailed them after the team had put out a press release about starting a women’s team. Hannah saw that and thought it was worth a shot and sent her CV off. “The thought of going to America was really exciting” Hannah told VeloUK after learning many months ago that she had been selected to ride for them.

Hannah explained how it has been hard to not be given the opportunity of racing for a pro team in Europe and that last winter, she had considered her options and one of those was to stop racing. “It was really hard especially after Ibis folded and I couldn’t find a team” Hannah told VeloUK. “After having spent time racing against the likes of Marianne Vos, it was difficult to take a step backward. I’m certainly pleased now that I carried on!”

“This season has been great and the support I have had from everyone has been wonderful as well.”

Hannah spent a year racing in Holland on and off but lost time racing there when she broke her collarbone and came home, doing some of the Tour Series events whilst here. “It was really great racing out there and it was a quite a shock to the system. Even though I was winning races back home, it was hard competing for the wins out there. It was an eye opener for sure and I knew I had to progress and had to keep telling myself I was still quite young”.


Ahead of the 2013 season, Hannah explained that she’d done a few training camps but didn’t think she was going to go as well as she did. “It was quite nice and been really good to be back here. The girls team at Maxifuel had a really tight bond and we got on really well. I have really enjoyed the season especially after Woking when I crashed. I was quite overwhelmed by the public support.”

Asked for a highlight, it was Woking Hannah chose ahead of some pretty big victories. “The whole crashing and getting back on and winning, it was so memorable. That whole week, with Smithfield too (Hannah was relegated after winning but then reinstated), was quite overwhelming. I was loved by the public and everyone was on my side. That was really nice.”

“The whole Smithfield thing was quite an odd situation to be in but quite a cool one as well as I wasn’t used to the whole media spotlight thing. I was on the radio yesterday talking about the Women’s Tour of Britain and people will approach me on the street and ask me how the scars are from the crash. It’s hard to get the head round it!”

Hannah explained how she has ‘googled’ Rachel Heal and admits at being quite intrigued. “She has done quite a lot” says Hannah “and I am looking forward to working with her. It’s going to be cool to have an English DS on an American team. I am so looking forward to that”.


2003 – where did those years go – and Rachel Heal (right) is on the podium with the future Olympic champion Nicole Cooke.

Hannah is still unsure if her team will travel to the UK to do the British UCI Women’s Tour but is hoping they do as they will be coming to Europe for other races like defending their victory in the Women’s Tour of Italy. “I am going to Arizona soon for a training camp to meet everyone and then I will move there (the USA) in January. The team’s first race is in Argentina in January so it’s an early season start but I don’t know my race programme as yet.”

After having coached herself this year which she says took a lot of dedication and will power, Hannah now has a coach as she prepares to take a step up in the cycling world. With a strong sprint and ability to do well in circuit races, Hannah is looking forward to the racing which she has been told will suit her. Her final wish is that she can make the most of that by bringing her team some results and repaying the faith her new team and others have had in her…

Thanks to Hannah for the chat and good luck in the USA.


2008 and Hannah Barnes was winning bunch gallops



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