A rare opportunity to race on British soil is one Burton Latimer professional cyclist Hannah Barnes is determined to make the most of as she gets ready to compete in the richest women’s event in cycling history.
The 23-year-old will line up among elite cyclists from all over the world at Prudential RideLondon on July 30, riding the Classique event which boasts a €100,000 prize pot, equal to that of the men’s event the following day.
The Prudential RideLondon was launched in 2013 as a legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games and features a 100-mile route from London through Surrey, as well as the FreeCycle event for families through the capital’s closed roads.
Alongside those, this year’s Classique looks set to thrill with a new route that takes in many of the city’s historical landmarks, and Barnes admits she couldn’t be happier to be making her Prudential RideLondon debut and pedalling with parity.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Barnes, who attended Sponne School in Towcester and rides for Canyon–SRAM team.
“Racing in front of Buckingham Palace will be really cool and to have a longer lap this year is really good.
“To have equal prize money at the Prudential RideLondon is really important. Over the last couple of years British Cycling have been trying to close the gap and it is pushing other organisations to try and match it.
“It just shows how much the women’s sport has developed over the years. I haven’t been in the professional ranks but I can see that there has been a development, and I think it will push more teams, organisations and the UCI to close the gap between the men’s and women’s peloton.”
Living and training in Spain, Barnes admits she doesn’t have many opportunities to race in her homeland, and is excited to take the streets of the capital come the end of July.
And while her focus will be purely on racing the Classique on the Saturday, she insists she can’t wait to see the Great British public having fun on their bikes over the weekend.
“It’s really good to be back racing in Britain,” she added. “Buckingham Palace and the Mall are iconic places to have a bike race and I love showing my teammates around London.
“I know London quite well so it’s quite nice to go there, and last year, some of my teammates had never been to London or England before so I always like to have that bit of tourist time too.
“Last year at the Prudential RideLondon, there were children and families everywhere on their bikes, coming along to watch the race, and it’s so noticeable how popular cycling has become.
“I think the Classique will really help to promote women’s cycling. I’ve seen a lot more women out riding and buying kit.
“There are so many women liking our team on social media so it’s really good to see.”
The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 46 takes place on Sunday July 31 2016. For more information visit www.PrudentialRideLondon.co.uk