Hannah Barnes sprinted to fifth place at today’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in Ninove, Belgium. Hannah was well-positioned throughout the race and took confidence from her first race of the season.
“The race was a lot of fun. The course offers you a lot so you can afford to gamble a little and look for opportunities so we used that to our advantage and didn’t commit to anyone being the sole leader,” explained Hannah after the race.
A three-rider breakaway skipped away after just five kilometres of racing and maintained a lead for the next 70 kilometres. When the peloton hit the cobbled pitches of the Molenberg climb, fireworks ensued. A group of 32 riders, including Barnes and teammates Kasia Niewiadoma and Elise Chabbey, fought out the final 40 kilometres, with a number of attacks from various riders in the peloton. While Kasia went over the penultimate climb in third position, Hannah was close behind and soon rejoined the leaders.
Eventual winner Anna van der Breggen (SDW) attacked on the final climb and went to the finish line solo, despite the chasing efforts of Kasia who worked to bring Hannah into contention for a reduced bunch sprint.
Hannah said, “I have always struggled to make it over the Muur-Kapelmuur climb in the front group so the top was my first finish line of the day and once we ticked the Bosberg climb off I tried to save as much as I could for the final. I owe Kasia a lot for working in the last 15 kilometres to try bring the leader back. Kasia’s efforts motivated me even more for the finish.”
“I made sure I stayed close to the front, attentive and saved as much energy as possible for the key sections. The sprint was okay. I gave it everything so I can’t be too disappointed. Of course the podium would have been amazing but this result is a big step in the right direction for the team and for myself. Bring on Strade Bianche next week.”
More reactions from the team are below.
“Straight after the race I have to say I’m slightly disappointed because I think I was aiming for a better result for the team. We are all in good shape and that made me confident that we could get on to the podium.”
“I feel like the first part of the race was there to make us cold, and then from 60km to go it was super intense all the way until the finish line.”
“The moment when Anna attacked, I couldn’t put out all my power on the cobbles which was frustrating because I was trying to go deep and do my best. That was the moment of disappointment from the race. The positives were as a team we rode great, and that Hannah’s shape is rocking!”
“I felt really good from the start with the team and had the feeling that my teammates immediately trust me in a race situation so that was a cool sensation.”
“I did my best at the beginning to put the team in a good position and be ready for the critical part! For this part I’m pleased. I’m a bit disappointed that I couldn’t help the leaders until the very end but I’ll improve and be ready for the next races! It was a nice start to the race season.”
“My main role was to be present in the beginning and lead out in the downhill towards the second climb, the Wolvenberg. I went with Hannah there shortly before the right-hand turn and I left the inside of the corner open and Hannah was super and went through in great position.”
“I would have liked to do another lead out into the Molenberg climb but I was positioned too far behind. I almost made it back to the first group but I ended up being stuck between the two groups. In my opinion we can do better with positioning but I felt good racing with my teammates. I really enjoyed racing for the first time with Elise!”
“My role was as a support rider. It was great to start the season and I’m happy about that, but the race itself wasn’t great for me. I was in the second group after the peloton split and it meant I wasn’t able to give support to my teammates in the final 35-40 kilometres when it was needed.”
“I didn’t have a good race. I struggled a lot with fighting for position. I got caught out in some of the key sections and spent a lot of energy coming back to the front. When the race split for the final time, I found myself in the second group. I’m disappointed I didn’t find my rhythm yesterday, but I know it’ll come back in the next couple races. It’s relief to have the first race behind me. My teammates raced super well today, and I’m excited for the season ahead!”
Photo credit: Thomas Maheux