Hannah Barnes declared her third-place finish in today’s first ever Friends Life Women’s Tour stage as her best ever result.
The UnitedHealthcare rider narrowly trailed world number one Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) and Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) at the end of the 93.8-kilometre leg from Oundle to Northampton, which finished just a handful of miles away from her hometown of Towcester.
Barnes, who turned 21 on Sunday, won the opening stage of this year’s Tour de San Luis, but said today’s performance surpasses that.
“Yes, for me, it’s a better result,” she said. “It hasn’t sunk in yet; I didn’t expect to be up there.
“It was hard approaching the finish, I was in a good position for a minute, and then out of position for a minute. I just kept digging in, and the gaps opened up.
“Lizzie [Armitstead] went with 500m to go, which spread it out a bit, and it was drag race for the line. A [head]wind definitely played a part in the result.”
Barnes admitted to CW that she had been feeling anxious in the days leading up to this stage, because of the proximity of it to her roots.
Numerous family members attended the stage, wearing TEAM BARNES: LIFETIME MEMBER t-shirts.
“I’ve been nervous since I knew we were coming to the race, so to get stage one out of the way with this result is great,” she added, before joking: “I’m off home now!”
Barnes leads the L&LR Best British Rider and Matrix Best Young Rider classifications, while her UHC team-mate Sharon Laws took the race’s first Strava Queen of the Mountains jersey.
“I didn’t think we’d see women’s cycling like this in Britain,” said Laws. “It’s bigger than any race I’ve been at, including the Giro. It was an incredible experience today.
“I’ll do my best to keep it – it will be really challenging, a lot of it is about positioning.
“I arrived at 3pm yesterday [following a flight from the USA], so I’m still feeling slightly jet-lagged. I was awake at 4am this morning! I’m hoping I’ll get through it.”