Johnson Health Tech GP Series blog: Hannah Barnes in Colchester

Cycling Weekly will have a rider blogging from every round of this year’s Johnson Health Tech GP Series, offering insight, comment and humour from the fast-paced proceedings.

This week, Hannah Barnes (MG-Maxifuel) talks us through her win in Colchester.

The second round of the Johnsons Health Tech GP Series took us to Essex, the land of fake tans and everyone classing themselves as “looking REEM!” I arrived early for an ITV interview with “big” Magnus Backstedt and Matt Stephens to talk about the perks of having a combined men’s and women’s team, as we do at MG-Maxifuel. It’s always off-putting having cameras shoved in front of you but Maggie is a natural so I wasn’t nearly as nervous having him there.

It was great to be interviewed and I was really pleased to be able to fly the flag for women’s cycling. It’s great having the Johnsons Health Tech series and SweetSpot’s [the event organiser] Guy Elliot doing so much for the sport – their determination to try and improve the participation and level of women’s cycling in the country is definitely paying off. The Tour Series is a massive event for the men and to be racing along side them is awesome. Especially when the crowds are as big as they were last night in Colchester – it’s always nice hearing your name being cheered as you are racing.

I was asked by ITV if I would ride a lap with Matt to talk about and show the viewers the circuit. I was really pleased they asked me to do it instead of one of the men as it shows that people are really on board trying to improve women’s cycling in the UK. We rode the lap and talked about the best lines and different scenarios of the race. It was really good to get to know the course especially after it had been changed after last year, with an added chicane.

As I was in the sprint leader’s jersey I was called up to the front along with the leader of the series, Natalie Creswick (MuleBar Girl-Sigma Sport) and last year’s winner Annie Simpson (Hope Factory Racing). The first attack came just two laps in and surprise surprise, it was [CW writer] Louise Mahe – what a shocker!

After 10 minutes the claxon sounded for the first intermediate sprint and holding the jersey I was keen to go for it. As soon as it sounded I was swamped with a sea of blue. My teammates really are the best and I couldn’t do it without them. They gave me a textbook lead-out and I took the first sprint. Once I had crossed the line I looked round and saw I had a healthy lead on the bunch so made the decision to go on my own and bit of a “do or die” move, but you never know if you don’t try.

The gap kept fluctuating and at one point I only had six seconds on the bunch and I thought it was all over but I dug in and soon enough the gap had gone back out. I couldn’t have done any of it without the crowds and all my supporters cheering me on. They were all complaining of sore throats afterwards…my bad! It was great to get my hands in the air and hopefully I can do it again soon.

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