Barnes keeps clean in the closing stages to lead the sprint finish for Drops

Alice Barnes.  (Pic: Larry Hickmott/veloUK.net)
Alice Barnes. (Pic: Larry Hickmott/veloUK.net)

MK-based Drop Cycling were in the thick of the action at the Women’s Aviva Tour last week.

The six strong Drops line-up featured Alice Barnes – winner of the Lincoln GP in early May and of a round of this year’s Matrix Fitness Grand Prix just two weeks ago in Stevenage, Team GB U23 cyclo-cross star Hannah Payton and Barnes erstwhile on the road support Laura Massey, a real mix of youth and experience.

The racing started well for Drops with Rebecca ‘Trixie’ Durrell finishing in 25th place in the deceptively tough uphill finish into Norwich that caught out many riders with the deceptively difficult kick-up in the final metres.

Thursday’s leg into Stratford-upon-Avon was, at just under 141kms, the longest ever stage.

Working closely together, Alice and Laura finished at the front of the second group on the road having lost just 1m 42s down on the stage winner.

In stages 3 and 4, as a team and, unlike many of the larger budgeted squads, still with a full complement of six riders in the race, the Drops jerseys were riding confidently and closer to the front so that, at the end of the fourth stage run-in to Stoke, the Drops team were up to ninth overall.

The plan for the final stage was based around having all six riders in a position to help ‘Trixie’ Durrell be close to the front so she could contest the final sprint.

But a few mechanical problems for riders meant that in the closing kilometres it was Barnes and Massey who had to help the team’s sprinter.

Coming into a roundabout just 500m from the finishing line there was a major crash and Durrell got held up so Barnes was left as the only Drops rider who could contest that final sprint and in fact, she held on to finish in 12th place, the best Drops finish of the race.

“I can’t be more than pleased with that effort from Alice,” said Drops Team Director Bob Varney.

“Alice wasn’t supposed to be sprinting for the placing but this time was there to help another rider after she’d been given so much support through the race.

“That’s just been typical of the whole team through the whole race, they’ve all worked selflessly for each other.”