It has been a tough season for Hannah Barnes, and the British national champion is ready to draw a line under it when she closes her season at the World Championships on Saturday. Barnes will race as part of an eight-rider squad that will back defending world champion Lizzie Deignan.
Barnes had months off the bike after she broke her ankle at the end of last season and had to fight her way back to fitness. Her hard work and determination paid off with her first national championship title, but the effort needed to find her form is finally taking its toll on the 23-year-old.
"It was a pretty tough start to the season and a tough end to last season. As soon as I was told that I had the all clear and that I could ride again I had three months to get race fit and started racing again," she told the media at the Great Britain hotel in Doha.
"I started the season pretty late which was good because the season finished pretty late so I felt like I had a bit of an advantage but mentally I'm a bit tired no because it was really full on with physio and everything. I'm ready for Saturday to be over and to have some time off."
It's hard to know how Barnes will fair in the conditions although she has had a few days to acclimatize after having raced the team time trial, where she took silver with Canyon-SRAM, and the individual time trial in which she took 14th. She has a decent sprint finish and, under normal circumstances, she would be in the mix for a strong result in the road race. However, she believes that she's still missing something after having three months off the bike over the winter.
"I will definitely try and do my best to be there and help. It's a really young squad with not a lot of experience of the World Championships," she said. "For me, it is only my second senior championships so I'm going into it as a bit of a novice as well.
"I've spoken to some of the guys who did the [under 23] race and they said it was pretty easy. I was expecting a smaller group than that so I don't really know what to expect. It looked pretty strung out, but I think that the first two laps are going to be about staying up front and keeping out of trouble. Today there was quite a few crashes earlier on, and I think that was because they were all a bit nervous and twitchy."
When the World Championships wrap up, Barnes will enjoy a few days at home with her family before travelling to Japan with her boyfriend, soon to be Team Sky rider Tao Geoghegan Hart. After some much needed time away from the bike, the preparations for next season will begin.
"I think that this winter is going to be really important because I've got a lot of base [training] to catch up on. I'm looking forward to it," she explained. "I've got a really strong team that has supported me from day one. I signed my contract with them when I was still in a cast. To have their support and to go into the Classics would be great. I'd love to be there and help the team out at those races."