Interview: Hannah Barnes

The World Road Championships in Bergen was packed with great British performances, such as the one by Hannah Barnes in the Women’s road race

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Interview: Hannah Barnes

The World Road Championships in Bergen was packed with great British performances, such as the one by Hannah Barnes in the Women’s road race. In two breaks during the race, Hannah and the other British riders had us on the edge of our seats looking, expecting a great result. The chaotic nature of the finishes however saw that fade away at the last minute but still the riders could be proud of how they rode and none more so than Hannah Barnes.

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VeloUK spoke to Hannah who has ridden for Canyon SRAM for two years and she explained how the season has ended now and added how it’s gone really fast and that it felt like last week she was doing her first race of the year.

I guess I am like many who know of Hannah’s great sprint victories and class her as a sprinter but at the Worlds on a lumpy course in Bergen, Norway, Hannah was out front in the breaks, driving them along and not sitting back waiting to unleash the watts in sight of the finish line.

“The first break I was in, I just went with the attack because I was in a good position and not really expecting it to stick but I looked around and saw we had a gap. It wasn’t ideal because I wanted to wait until later in the race and save some energy but it was a good move to be in and I was able to float pretty easy up the climb while I think the peloton were going pretty hard up there. So that helped”.

Hannah in the front move with Lizzie Deignan at the nationals on the Isle of Man, where Hannah made the podium whilst Lizzie took the title.

“In the second break, it was just a really good opportunity. I knew going up Salmon Hill, I could not go with the climbers, so I wanted to be at the top before they got there so I was in the mix. On that course, you had to be able to climb a bit for sure.”

Summing up the race for the GB team, Hannah said “overall, I think we raced the event really well even though we didn’t get the result we wanted. I think we were the nation that made the race so it was good”.

Hannah certainly went into the race with her A game. “It is hard to peak for a lot of races over the year but I was able after the Giro, to have some time off where I could rest and I knew my team were focusing a lot on the team time trial (worlds) so we did a lot of training for that and then we did the Holland Ladies Tour which set me up well for the Worlds. It was nice the worlds were not in October because it would have been hard to peak for that!”

Two National Championships and two medals for Hannah in 2017

Asked if she looks back at the race and gains a lot from the performance, Hannah replied “I do struggle with self confidence but I have enough people telling me I am able to be there with them. In the race, when that final group came together, I could hear Julian (Winn) in my ear, ‘this is the winning move, race it well and you will get a good result’ which is a bit crazy. So I really enjoyed that day; it was a lot of fun.”

“I think the whole time leading up to it, the group got on really well and we were all motivated coming into it and in a good place and I think it helped a lot.”

With Lizzie Deignan having had surgery only weeks before the worlds, did the team have an open strategy I asked? “We went into the race with Lizzie being the leader because although Lizzie went through the surgery, she looked really strong in the rides leading up to the Worlds so no-one knew what was going to happen.”

“She didn’t know really how it was going to go and how she would feel and all of us knew we had to keep an open mind. The response afterwards about how we raced it even though we didn’t come away with the jersey was really good and showed us we can go forward into the next championships and major events knowing we have a good group of riders that ride well together and are able to put everything on the line for that rider”.

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Hannah’s Season
“This whole year I have learnt a lot” she explained. “In the spring classics, I really loved Flanders and Gent Wevelgem and had fun. The Women’s Tour as well is a race that I think is quite a key part of the season in my career and shows me I can perform in a five day stage race with the best and get a good result”.

“Winning the stage at the Giro was a surprise. Everyone was really surprised including myself so it has been a good year and I like to think I can take confidence from it into next year and train hard with a really great team. They really push me …”

Talking of next season, there will be a very familiar face in the same team with Hannah, her sister Alice. “I am really looking forward to that” says Hannah. “She was really strong at the start of the season and I felt she was ready to make that next step”.

“I think she is looking forward to coming to Canyon SRAM and being one of the workers and learning a lot because when you have Trixi Worrack on the team with you, I learnt so much from her and so I am really looking forward to it. It will be a lot of fun. The only time before we got to see each other was at races where as now we can catch up round the dinner table too!”

Alice has only recently taken up the road from mountain biking and quickly shown she can race with the best. “I think she has taken to the road really well and definitely has a lot of talent there” says Hannah. “She just needs to work hard and I think in the team environment she will enjoy it. I do and the team push you and make you better which is really important at that age”.

Hannah’s sister Alice, winner at the Lincoln GP, will be in the same team as Hannah in 2018, Canyon SRAM

After seeing the performance at Bergen, I asked Hannah has she changed as a rider from being a pure sprinter? “A lot of people label me a sprinter but since I broke my ankle, my body changed a lot during that time. I lost a lot of muscle weight so before I broke my ankle, I would say I was a pure sprinter but now I can get over the climbs. Maybe not mountains but the big hills…”

I also had to ask Hannah about another young rider, Lizzy Banks who is doing what Hannah did and riding for a team in the USA with a British DS, Rachael Heal. “I was really happy when I saw that. You look at Claire Rose; she went to America and is now on Bigla, one of the best teams in the world. I am pleased more people are doing that because it is a lot of fun and you gain a lot of confidence from it. I always say that when I think of retiring in the future, I will go back to America for a season and finish it there. I won’t be doing that anytime soon though!”  …. … continued after advert


Looking ahead to 2018 and goals, Hannah says she isn’t sure yet. “We’ll have a five day get together in December and we’ll look at the calendar. I really enjoyed the Spring Classics this year. It was my first full spring campaign for me and I am looking forward to them and obviously the Women’s Tour, Nationals and Worlds at Innsbruck”.

“The Spring classics though are really cool, especially Flanders; I really enjoy them. Flanders was my first time this year so I didn’t know what to expect. All my teammates knew what the sectors were called and when they came and it was all new to me.”

“It is though a lot of fun seeing so many people out there and it’s a really good course. My dad came out and the course zig zags about so it’s really good for spectators as well . It is just a really fun time to be racing as well. Everyone is motivated after a long winter of training and everyone is eager to race and that comes out in the style of racing.”

“The night before, the team meetings are quite long as there are some really important sectors in the race that you need to be aware of and be at the front, places where the race is won or lost and I found that out. It’s what makes the races unique where you have a four hour race where you have to be on your toes all the time.”

That however is all in the future. For now, Hannah is having a break and expects to spend a lot of time in Britain after a season based in Girona with perhaps a race in South Africa in November being her ‘holiday’. Good luck to Hannah and thank you for the chat



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