Season opener success as Hannah Barnes wins first stage of Setmana Ciclista Valenciana

Canyon-SRAM arrived at the Spanish race with two cards to play

Hannah Barnes win the British National Championships road race (Andy Jones)

Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) won the opening stage of the four-day Setmana Ciclista Valenciana in Spain, proving herself the fastest in the bunch sprint after her team mate Kasia Niewiadoma was caught in the final stretch to the finish line.

Taking an impressive second place following a failed breakaway was Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo Bigla), with Alé–Cipollini's Marta Bastianelli in third.

Fresh from a spanish training camp, Canyon-SRAM arrived at the UCI 2.2 ranked European season opener with a strong roster and two ambitious contenders for victory.

The 118km stage was the first of four, and featured two climbs in the second half: an ascent of Alto de Barxeta (6.2km at 3.1 per cent) and Alto de Barx (6km and 5.6 per cent).

Moolman-Pasio collected the points on the first classified climb, opening the way for team mate Lotta Lepistö plus Canyon-SRAM's Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, Shara Gillow (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) and Mavi Garcia (Movistar) to take a lead.

However, by the early slopes of the second climb - Alto de Barx - the peloton had closed down their gap.

At this point, Niewiadoma kicked to attack, with Moolman-Pasio seeing her chance to break from the bunch soon after. The two worked together, with Moolman-Pasio claiming the second set of climber's bonus points.

Following the descent, the riders had just 14km left to cover, but with 5km yet to go their time gap amounted to 30s.

With the finish line fast approaching, the peloton absorbed the breakaway in the final 1km. This left Canyon-SRAM's sprinter, Barnes, to finish the job and take the win.

The team for Setmana Ciclista Valenciana on a course reconnaissance. Image: Thomas Maheux

Speaking from the Canyon-SRAM training camp before the race, the British sprinter had predicted a very different race - which leaves questions over what she may have left in the tank for the following stages.

"Our team has had a chance to see some of the stages. I think from what we've seen I would say that the first and last stages will be more for the climbers and a chance to change the general classification. The second and third stages I'm going to predict a bunch sprint," Barnes commented.

Tomorrow's 115km stage starts in Castello, finishing in Vila-Real. It's expected to end in a bunch sprint, despite the 7.5km climb at 5.1 per cent - Desert of Les Palmes - in the middle.

The third stage is 137km long, taking riders from Sagunt to Valencia, with a climb of L'Oronet (5.5km at 5 per cent per cent). The final stage, at 118km, is based entirely in Benidorm with three laps of a 38km circuit that includes an ascent of Alto Finestrat (7km at 4.7 per cent).

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is Cycling Weekly's Tech Editor, and is responsible for managing the tech news and reviews both on the website and in Cycling Weekly magazine.

A traditional journalist by trade, Arthurs-Brennan began her career working for a local newspaper, before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining writing and her love of bicycles first at Total Women's Cycling and then Cycling Weekly. 

When not typing up reviews, news, and interviews Arthurs-Brennan is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 190rt.

She rides bikes of all kinds, but favourites include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6. 

Height: 166cm

Weight: 56kg

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