Barnes, 22, turned professional with the team in 2014 and has spent the last two seasons based in the US and combining a transatlantic race programme. However, at the Women's Tour [of Britain] earlier this year, where she won a stage and finished 5th overall, she began to think about a full-time return to European racing.
“After the Tour of Britain I had a few teams interested and when I was at the Tour of Britain I just realised that I wanted to come back here and race. I’ve really enjoyed racing the US and taking that huge jump and leap into the unknown but wanted to come back and be a bit closer to home,” she told Cyclingnews.
“Racing in the US was a great experience and I loved every second of it. I’d never actually been to America before moving out here. At first I was bit hesitatant but then I thought, why not? Then I enjoyed the first year so much that I decided to stay for a second season. I’ve grown in confidence and really developed.”
Barnes cut her teeth in the UK Criterium racing scene before her move to the United States. Her 2016 race programme has yet to be finalised but the likely scenario will involve her combining a mixed schedule of crits, one-day and stages races.
“It will be mostly in Europe and I’ll be doing a few more stage races, which I’m really looking forward to. I’m quite nervous about it and this winter is going to be so important," she said.
“I know that I like stage races and that’s where I seem to get better as races go on. That’s certainly what happened with my results at the Tour of Britain where I was gaining more confidence. I don’t really know what sort of rider I am yet but I’ll work that out.”
Lauke’s complete roster for next year has yet to be announced but it will contain a number of Velocio-SRAM riders – the squad where he worked as a team director for the last few years. The Velocio-SRAM team closed after wining their fourth World Championships team time trial title in Richmond last month and Barnes, who missed the Worlds due to a broken ankle, is looking forward to meeting her new teammates.
“It’s really exciting and everything I’ve heard about the team is really good. It’s so exciting and I’m looking forward to getting to know all the other riders but with this injury I have to be really focused in order to get back to where I was.”