Hannah Barnes will make her racing comeback on Saturday having been out of action since August 2015 with a broken ankle.
The 22-year-old Brit will also make her debut for new team Canyon-SRAM at the Omloop van de IJsseldelta, having moved from UnitedHealthcare in the offseason.
Last August, Barnes fell and broke her ankle at the USA Pro Challenge, with the complicated break meaning she could not ride her bike for five months.
But Barnes, who finished fifth in the Aviva Women’s Tour last June, says she is elated to finally be pinning a race number on for her new team.
“When I got the good news about being allowed to ride again I was elated. I almost felt the day would never come,” she said on the Canyon-SRAM Facebook page.
“It took five months and five separate scans to be given the all clear. I missed my bike a lot while I was injured and the fact that I wasn’t able to do anything physical was hard to comprehend.
“I guess that when you have something taken away from you, you never take it for granted again. I have a whole new love for cycling now and that kept me motivated everyday.”
Barnes enjoyed a standout season before her injury in 2015, winning the youth classification at the Tour de San Luis, Amgen Tour of California and Women’s Tour.
She won in front of her home crowd on stage five of the Women’s Tour in Hemel Hempstead to finish fifth overall in the race, 14 seconds down on winner Lisa Brennauer.
Her recovery from the broken ankle has been long, and Barnes says building up her muscle and fitness again has been a huge challenge.
“The first month or so was hard, both mentally and physically. I was riding on the indoor trainer for the first three weeks,” she said.
“After that I went out on the road and found it difficult to ride for just 45 minutes, something that before I would have found so easy. But then it didn’t take long before I was able to ride longer distances and ride that little bit faster.
“I am now able to train like normal and include all the efforts and climbs that I need to be doing. A month ago that would not have been possible.”