Want to find out more about Colchester’s Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix Series winner and Series leader Hannah Barnes, then read on.

Ahead of the Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix Series, Andy Whitehouse sat down with MG Maxifuel's Hannah Barnes, in this interview kindly shared with TheTour.co.uk

At 20 years old Hannah Barnes could be classed as an old hand having competed in every running of the Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix Series. The Towcester based multi-National Champion now riding for MG Maxifuel after the collapse of the Team Ibis Cycles at the end of 2012 season is looking forward to the 2013 Series, which promises to be the best yet.

“This will be my third year competing in the Series,” said Hannah. “I did every round in the 2011 riding for Motorpoint and took the sprint jersey which was pretty good, I finished on equal points with Hannah Rich that year but got it on count back. To be honest I was there for the overall and I really wasn't too bothered with the sprints but there’s only so much you can do I suppose.”

Hannah broke her collarbone while racing in Gelderland (Holland) in 2012 so was only able to race in two rounds coming second at both Oxford and Peterborough.

“I wasn't able to race obviously after breaking my collarbone so my first races back were at Oxford and Peterborough where I finished second in both. They were good races and it gave me the chance to get my legs back up to speed.”

And looking forward to the 2013 Series, how do you see your chances?

“We've been told we have to win it by the boss. It is a big target for the team this year so it’s obviously something we are working hard towards. There are really four main teams in the Series, MG Maxifuel, Matrix, Brest Cancer Care and Scott but I think there may be a team that enter who could surprise us all.”

And will the team be working for you?

“Well we haven't really decided on that yet, Karla [Boddy], Charline [Joiner] and myself have been working really well together this year so we'll have to wait and see how it goes. It will be fun having the last two rounds in the same week though.”

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Women’s racing has seen a huge step up over the last few years and organisers are seeing the benefit of staging women’s races.

“Oh for sure, it’s has been really busy for us recently, We had the Women’s Tour of Perth which was a weekend of some great racing, We didn't take the overall but I took the last stage, Charline and Karla rode superbly to get me to the line in appalling conditions. The Cheshire Classic which Karla won and we have the Bedford Three Day next week which will be a hard weekend. In fact May and June will be really busy. I don't know how the riders who work full time will fit all the races in. Its ok for me because all I do is ride my bike.”

Riding for Ibis last season meant you were in Europe for most of the season, I would imagine there won't be as many miles travelled this year?

“Yeah, last year I was travelling back and forth every week to get to the races so I wasn't really 'around' in the U.K. but with MG Maxifuel we won't be riding UCI races so I am based here this season and obviously I won't be doing the miles.”

So I imagine you are happy to be at home for a while?

“Yes and no! Racing against Marianne Vos was fun but it’s nice to be home and have a base. I love this team, it’s a great set up and we have a great bunch of riders but I have a lot more pressure on me to do well, a lot more then I had at Ibis. As a first year team we have to make a good impression and get the jersey across the line first to keep the teams sponsors happy.”

It’s a nice circle to be in at the moment, bigger races, better racing, more teams. I would go as far to say the 2013 Dave Peck Memorial was arguably the best domestic women’s race we have seen in the UK.

“The step up in the racing is huge this year, it really is a lot better, we have better teams in the races, bigger sponsors and we are starting to see a massive improvement generally in the racing. I don't think we will see us reaching the men’s level though for a while. They've just run the Cicle Classic and I think we could have a women’s race in that like they do in Europe but I don't think I'll be racing when we get to that time.”

There are a good number of women coming into the sport that aren't as 'clued up' as some with the tactics of road racing. Is that a problem to you on the road or something that is seen as a learning curve?

“The team have been practicing lead outs this year and they are getting a lot better but I think we have to learn to let others do a fair share of the work. I'm having to get used to the team working for me, I actually get a bit embarrassed when I sit in and do nothing, at Perth crit I was shouting at Charline to let someone else do some work but I think that’s her track discipline coming out, she will win races this year if she lets others do a share of the work. Karla is the sensible one in the team, she can read races, I just go out and smash it but you can hear her shouting when you're in the bunch.”

What is your favourite race?

"Smithfield Nocturne. By a long, long way. It’s a race I've won every year so that’s one reason but the crowds are special. When I came off the podium last year Ian Stannard was just going up and he said "You live near me don't you, want to go for a ride?" I turned him down, me ride with him? Just ridiculous. When I joined Team Keyne I actually had his gillet with his name on it but I gave it back to the club to pass down, wish I still had it. Actually I do see him training on the roads by me, you know its him, he's huge and dressed in white.”

And the most memorable race?

"That was Gent-Wevelgem last year, my first UCI race I actually finished, I thought I'd won it, the feeling I had. I went from winning races in the UK pretty much consistently, if I didn't it was a bad day then to go to Holland and just hope I could finish a race, it is so hard to race over there."

Thanks to Andy Whitehouse and Johnson Health Tech UK Ltd for the interview.