RISING county ace Alice Barnes recovered from a nightmare start to record her best World Cup mountain bike finish in the third round of this year’s series in the Czech Republic.
The seven-strong Great Britain junior squad woke up on the morning of the race in Nove Mesto to discover that all their bikes had been stolen overnight.
But after a hectic few hours, the Towcester 16-year-old made it to the start line on a bike borrowed from former world downhill champion Tracy Moseley who was competing in the elite women’s race later in the day.
Barnes worked her way through from 36th place on the grid to finish 21st – an improvement of 23 places from her debut ride in Belgium last month.
“We only found out that the bikes were missing as we were scheduled to leave the hotel,” she said.
“But thanks to the elites we were all able to borrow top-end bikes and compete.
“It was a massive experience. There was limited time for a warm-up as we were still sorting out positions on the bike inside an hour before the race and it was my first time riding a bike with a 29-inch wheel opposed to the more common 26-inch.
“My aim was to do better than I achieved at my first World Cup. I have learnt a lot since then and I just needed to stay calm and not get worked up about the amount of girls racing around me.
“Once we started I really enjoyed myself, and as the race went on I started picking off riders – I was pleased with the result, especially considering the circumstances.”
Barnes was second British finisher in the race won by Margot Moschetti of France.
Alice’s elder sister Hannah hopes to return to racing today at an event in Belgium after breaking her collarbone in a crash in Holland last month.
Based in Holland with Team Ibis Cycles for her first senior system, Hannah – who is being supported this year by the Dave Rayner Fund and Milton Keynes Cycling Association – will be back home for next Tuesday’s women’s starter race in the televised Tour Series in Oxford.