Blog: Hannah Barnes starts Pro life with a victory


It was the dream start for Hannah Barnes ( UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team), a pro win for her new team in her very first race and then the lows, falling off and taken out of the race … Here’s Hannah’s story in her own words …

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San Luis (Argentina)

Hannah, with her new team  UnitedHealthcare, was asked to do the first race of the season and with summer temperatures of 40 degrees and more, the Circuit Race champion said it felt more like mid July here than winter she had just come from.

“I was really looking forward to the race and finally being able to ride with my new UHC team mates” Hannah explained. Being the first race, there was plenty to do. The team needed to learn the art of working for their lead rider which in this case was Hannah. They also wanted a good result and the UCI points that come with that. Time was not on their side and they had four days to acclimatise to the heat and also ride the fourty four hours of travel out of their legs.

Stage 1

The event has both a women’s and men’s version and first on the roads was the Women’s version. It was a flat first stage which was perfect for Hannah and with two intermediate sprints, the team decided Hannah would ‘warm up’ for the final sprint by contesting them without team support.

The first intermediate sprint came five kilometres further on up the road than it was supposed to and proved to take more out of her than Hannah expected. “I started the sprint too early” Hannah explains “and got rolled by one of the Cubans which was annoying.”

“The sprint it took me a long time to recover and I told the girls that I wasn’t going to go for the second one and instead put everything into the finish.”

Coming into the last ten kilometres, the pace of the peloton was on the slow side and so her UnitedHealthcare team took to the front to keep Hannah out of trouble. As the finish got ever nearer though, the argy bargy started as the red mist descended for the sprinters.

“The Cubans wanted in on our train” says Hannah. “Instead of using energy to fight them off we let them in which helped just so there were more wheels to use and more shelter. Alison ended up on the front earlier than we wanted but did an awesome job. She must of done an 800 metre pull before Alexis came through with 500m to go. She brought three Cubans with her but I just stayed on their wheels.”

“You could see the finish about 600m from the line so I just focused on the markers and not the finish, just so I didn’t go to early and die 50 metres from the line. I tried to leave it as late as I could and with the Cubans not wanting to take it up, I went with 150 metres to go and just dug in.”

“The feeling when I crossed the line was amazing, was so happy to get the first win for the team. All winter I was nervous about not carrying the same form I had during 2013 so it was a huge relief to cross the line first.”

Stage 2

After the win on stage 1, not a lot was expected of Hannah on stage 2 as the road book said it was quite lumpy. That the team found out was not correct and so despite a big climb early on, another stage was ear marked for the British sprinter should it be all together nearing the finish.

From the start, the race climbed for five kilometres and on that climb, Hannah lost contact and it was then that her inexperience at only 20 years of age caused her problems. “I panicked which was the wrong thing to do” she explained “and went way too deep into a corner and went straight on.”

“I got straight back on but with one pedal stroke I knew something wasn’t right, looked down and saw a huge gash in my knee. This was the race over and I rolled down the hill to the finish and got straight into the medical van.”

The reality of what happened then hit home as Hannah explains. “With so many people at home watching the live stream, the last thing I wanted was for them to see me climbing into the first aid van but they all saw it and I had a lot of worried messages from everyone.”

“Mum and dad were especially worried. They know me more than anyone and if I’ve climbed off then it’s pretty bad. I went straight to the hospital and they stitched my knee straight away. They were unsure on whether to stitch my hip but I decided for them and we left it.”

“I didn’t want my crash to ruin the other girl’s in the team’s tour so I am pleased the hospital was quick so Tavis the soigneur and I were back in time to get to the finish for when the girls came in. I am not someone that takes abandoning a race easily so it was very hard decision but I had to think long term and with it only being January, I have plenty more races in 2014 to come.”

Good luck to Hannah in her coming races … Hannah’s blog can be found here 

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