Feature: Alice Barnes Goes Road for 2016


Second to Lizzie Armitstead in Lincoln at the 2015 British Road Race Championships and Under 23 champion, Alice Barnes is chasing road spot at Rio

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Feature: Alice Barnes On Road-Off Road
By Gordon Wiseman

Many may know of Alice Barnes as being a part of the MTB squad in GB’s Olympic Academy Programme but in these last few weeks, since it was confirmed that Team GB would not be sending any mountain bike riders to the Rio Games, she’s been –successfully – riding for one of the country’s newest and most visible women’s racing outfits, the Milton Keynes based Drops Cycling Team.


Whilst the team line-up mixes both young and older riders, the Drops team for the London Nocturne was very much focussing on the younger element but already Ms. Barnes is proving to be a young rider but with heaps of talent and – since joining Drops – top results as well.
VeloUK – “It’s been less than a month since your joined Drops Cycling Team, how pleased are you with your results so far?”

Alice – “It’s really good here at Drops. There’s a great atmosphere in the team. Starting with the team and winning at Lincoln first time out was a great result for me and the team’ – who filled the first three places at Lincoln – ‘but since then I’ve done a couple of the Matrix Grand Prix races and we’ve just done a week in Brittany with a couple of races as well at the end of that stint”.

“Unfortunately I got a little ill towards the end of the French week so I wasn’t able to perform as well as I wanted in the first race and in the second race I did the first lap but then pulled out as I just didn’t want to make myself worse which I could have done if I’d pushed on.”

A great talent and a wise head…

“It was only a really, really sore throat but I didn’t want to make things worse, not at this time of the year. And I’m really enjoying my time at Drops so it wouldn’t have been fair to them either.”

VeloUK – “How did the ride with Drops come about, from your connections with Bob Varney’ – team owner – ‘or from your Team Keyne days long ago?”
Alice – “It was through my connections with Bob. He’d seen my performance last year in Lincoln at the Nationals’ ‘he said I’d really stood out to him. He said he thought I was really out of his league but I really didn’t believe that. So when Bob approached me, we talked things through and what he said worked really well with my aims and what I wanted to do so I was really happy to join the team.”


VeloUK – “You joined Drops just at the point that it was confirmed that Team GB wouldn’t be sending a MTB team to the Rio Olympics”.
Alice – “Yes that’s right. We struggled to qualify for the MTB Olympics with Team GB because we hadn’t got enough UCI points. But I’m still on the Academy and still on the MTB programme but that’s effectively a bit on hold to see what this year brings.”
VeloUK – “But you’ve expressed a hope that you’ll still get to the Games as part of the Road squad”.

Alice – “That would be great. It didn’t help getting ill in France as any results there would have been really helpful in trying to secure that place. That was really annoying. But there’s still a chance, I’ll just have to wait and see”.


VeloUK – “Do you think your MTB pedigree on such a hilly course as the one that’ll be used in the road race at Rio is what might help you get a place on that team?”
Alice – “I think that’s definitely one of the reasons they’re taking me into consideration. When I was there for the Rio MTB test event we drove a lap of the road course and it was very steep in places so I think my background in mountain bike racing will help me do that. And now this year I’m on the road, I’m getting a lot better on the climbs!”

VeloUK – “Does that make it all then more galling, having been to the test event and seen what Rio is all about and now possibly not even getting to the Games?”
Alice – “I do know what’s out there but even if I can only say I went to the Olympic’s test event, that was still an amazing experience and I’m happy I’ve done at least that”.

VeloUK – “Has that experience fuelled your ambitions to go for the road race?”
Alice – Definitely. Seeing the course, I know it’s going to be a really tough but interesting race and I’d love to take part”.


VeloUK – “It’s just been confirmed that Team GB can have three riders and we know that one of those will have to ride the TT. Obviously it’s expected that Lizzie Armistead will take one place and most pundits have Emma Pooley taking the second slot because of her TT pedigree but that only leaves one other place”.

Alice – “Yes, that will be interesting. I think right now that place will be fought between Dani’ – King – ‘Nikki’ – Harris – ‘myself and Hannah’ – the other Barnes! – ‘as they’ve been putting in some great rides recently in California.

So, yes, we’ll have to see how things go. It is just one step in my career and if it doesn’t come about I’ve still got some great races ahead of me like the Aviva Women’s Tour and hopefully the Worlds towards the end of the year. And I’m still only young so even if not this year, there should hopefully be other opportunities ahead of me”.

VeloUK – “You mentioned ‘the other Barnes’. Is there a healthy level of rivalry between the pair of you?”

Alice – “I think we’re really supportive of each other. Hannah’s just come back from a nasty injury so her goals will be different from mine. We’re sisters so, yes there will be a little bit of rivalry between us but mainly we’re massively supportive of each other”.



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