As Northamptonshire gets ready to welcome the second ever Women’s Tour tomorrow, the county’s very own rider Hannah Barnes says she is looking forward to racing in her hometown.
The 22-year-old, of Burton Latimer, has spent much of the last year cycling for a team in North Carolina, USA, and spent the winter at her Spain apartment, where the warmer weather allows her to train all year round.
Speaking on her way to Bury St Edmunds, where the Aviva Women’s Tour 2015 began yesterday (Wednesday), she said: “My mum and dad miss most of my racing in America, so we are all looking forward to them being there on the day. A lot of my old friends from the county are coming to support me too, which will be really nice.”
The Tour will pass through Northamptonshire tomorrow (Friday) as the cyclists complete the third and longest stage of the race.
They will cross the start line at 10am in Oundle Market Place and move through Corby, Rothwell, Desborough, Naseby and Brixworth, before finishing in Kettering town centre by 1.30pm.
Miss Barnes, continued: “I’ve checked out the Northamptonshire route and it will be hard, as it’s quite lumpy, with an interesting finish.
“But it will be a good day and training is going well.”
Brought up in Towcester, Miss Barnes’s impressive performance at last year’s tour saw her bag two jerseys – Best of British and Best Young Rider – and two top five finishes in both the opening and closing stages.
Her next challenges, she said, were achieving a place in the World Championships and maybe a Team GB spot in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Miss Barnes finished eighth overall in the inaugural Women’s Tour last year, which was finally won by Marianne Vos, but is planning to focus on her own performance rather than the competition.
“It’s a race between the best women cyclists in the world,” she said, “so I will just do
my best and see what happens.”
For the second year she will be cycling with American-based company UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling.
Rachel Heal, team director, said: “The Women’s Tour was fantastic to be part of last year.
“The race showcased the excitement of women’s racing, and the support from the fans lining the roads was absolutely incredible.
“UnitedHealthcare is excited to be returning for 2015, we’ve had a great season so far, and the team will be firing on all cylinders in Britain.”