Report:Women’s Tour Series Stevenage


Alice Barnes (Drops Cycling Team) didn’t just win in Stevenage this evening, she absolutely stamped her authority over the night’s proceedings with a big solo win

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Report:Women’s Tour Series Stevenage
by Gordon Wiseman


It was really only a question of time and having already podiumed at the Motherwell and Stoke rounds of this year’s Matrix Fitness Grand Prix series, Alice Barnes (Drops Cycling Team) didn’t just win in Stevenage this evening, she absolutely stamped her authority over the night’s proceedings.

And really, her ride on the night was just a continuation of her stunning performance at the London Nocturne on Saturday evening.

For the whole Drops Cycling Team it was the perfect result for them taking the top three placings, as they did at the Lincoln Grand Prix last month, and with the same three riders filling the same finishing positions, Barnes taking the win followed by Rebecca Durrell and Laura Massey.

Video: Alice Barnes

The evening’s win means Drops now top the team placings by some 53 points ahead of Podium Ambition p/b Club La Santa with just two rounds – Croydon and Portsmouth – remaining. Team Ford Ecoboost fill third spot but their evening was brightened by Nikki Juniper taking the outright lead in the Chain Reaction Cycles Points jersey competition.


This was the first time the Matrix GP series has visited Stevenage – although race organisers SweetSpot brought the Aviva Women’s Tour of Britain to the Hertfordshire town for a stage finish last year – and the women faced a simple 1km circuit that effectively consisted of two long straights linked by tight turns, one at each end.

On a very warm evening, as the racing started a small group of seven riders including Barnes, Juniper and Podium Ambition’s Grace Garner formed at the front but within a few laps they were quickly pulled back.

Such was the pace at the front that before the lap count reached double figures the race leaders were lapping back markers. Riders continued to try to break away off the front but, perhaps because of the mature of the circuit, their attacks were always neutralised.

Until Barnes put in one of her stunning laps where she just seemed to attack from nowhere – just as she did at Saturday’s Nocturne – and simply blasted away from the front. Juniper tried to keep her in sight but her efforts were in vain. Once Alice had decided to go, she was gone.


With her getting dangerously close to lapping the entire field, Barnes took a stunning solo win as, behind her, the others tried to make something out of their race. Ford Ecoboost and Podium Ambition tried to gather their troops at the front to work to minimise Barnes advantage – Podium’s Elizabeth-Jane ‘EJ’ Harris was particularly prominent despite this being her debut Matrix ride – but there was simply nothing anyone could do to stop Barnes taking her first win in the Matrix series.

Of the large bunch of riders racing for second place it was the Drops duo of Durrell and Massey who did the best job of positioning themselves so, as they left the final bend, they had the impetus to power themselves down the length of the finishing straight to capture a memorable Drops Cycling Team 1-2-3.

Rebecca Durrell (second) – “It was a fast, brutal pace today and so hot. We went in with a plan as we always do but with the actual racing being so unpredictable we just tried to play to our strengths, use our brains, ride smart and use all the tools in our box and I think we did that quite well as we came away with a 1-2-3.

“We know and everybody knows how strong Alice is so it’s always something we can try to do, make sure she gets away, but because she’s so strong it’ll also make her a heavily marked rider but tonight she went for it again as she did at the Nocturne and it paid off.

“I’m really pleased with my own ride but the best bit for me is the 1-2-3 for the team. We very much ride as a team, there’s such a great spirit here and if Alice gets the win, then we’ve all won and that makes the race perfect”.

Bob Varney (Drops Cycling Team, team manager) – “Sometimes after a result like that you have to pinch yourself. I wrote on a piece of paper this morning and texted the girls ‘1-2-3’ because I knew this result was possible today. I knew that with the squad of riders we had lining up for us this evening they were capable to getting that result. And the best bit is – they delivered.

“Tonight’s result puts us in a great position to win the team competition but there’s another big day tomorrow at Croydon and then we’ve still got Portsmouth on Thursday night as well.
At the beginning of the season we targeted the team win in the Matrix Fitness Grand Prix series and now we find ourselves in a very good position to achieve that goal.

“We knew that Alice would be strong tonight but then so did 50 other riders and we knew they’d want to go when Alice attacked. So we knew she had to ride clever. We talked about how she could attack and at what points on the circuit she could attack which she absolutely did. Tonight she was immense.




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