Hannah Barnes hopes that her victory in the 2016 National Road Race Championships can be the springboard to further success this season and help her return to her form of last year.
The Canyon-SRAM rider beat her sister Alice (Drops Cycling) on the line in Stockton-on-Tees to claim her first win since stage five of last year’s Aviva Women’s Tour.
That barren stretch of form doesn’t owe to a lack of form, but rather a lengthy spell on the sidelines. An ankle injury suffered last summer meant she didn’t race beyond July and she only returned this April.
With defending and world champion Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) missing the Stockton event due to illness from the Aviva Women’s Tour, Barnes went into the race as one of the favourites.
“It’s a big relief,” she told Cycling Weekly. “I didn’t have the best preparation coming into the season and I had to refocus a lot of my goals and this was definitely one of them.
“It was realistic to target this race and go into it as one of the favourites. When Lizzie didn’t come, it left the race wide open and became realistic that I could win it.”
Barnes beat her sister on the line in a disorganised finish that wasn’t devoid of a few tussling tactics. “Coming into the last corner, with 300 metres to go, it was messy and it was a drag race,” she added. “Thankfully it opened up, Alice started the sprint and I was able to use her as a mark.”
For the younger of the Barnes sister, it is the second year that Alice has finished second but won the U23 title.
She said: “I’m really happy. It’s not bad losing to my sister. She went through quite a tough time last year with her broken ankle and she’s worked hard to get back to full fitness. Obviously I’d like to win it but I got the U23 jersey so we both have one which is nice.”