British champion Hannah Barnes is still only 23, but the Canyon-SRAM rider seems to have been at the sharp end of women’s professional cycling forever. By turning pro as a teenager and racing in America, Britain, and continental Europe, and overcoming long-term injury, she has gained a maturity beyond her years.
“I’m still finding my way,” Barnes admits in a phone call from her Girona base at the start of a new season. By that time, she had intended to be Doha-bound. No more. The Ladies Tour of Qatar, and men’s too, come to that, are kaput. This is no more than an inconvenience to Barnes, however. She has faced greater setbacks, and overcome them.
Her career path already resembles a long and winding road; a highway that has led her away from her loved ones, and through the twilight world of sustained injury; a debilitating landscape from which she has emerged with her talent and ambition intact.
“I think I’d like to give the track a go, maybe,” she muses, in a wide-ranging conversation that encompasses everything from a successful training camp, in 2013, with the Great Britain women’s team pursuit squad, to life in Girona with boyfriend Tao Geoghegan Hart, the Team Sky neo-pro.
On the eve of her first season ‘proper’ wth Canyon-SRAM – a new beginning with the German super team, following last season’s injury-blighted first campaign – Barnes is upbeat and honest; an athlete of exceptional promise, yet still sufficiently grounded to admit that to live the life of a professional cyclist is to live a dream.