The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team had a fantastic showing amidst massive crowds in today’s opening stage of the Friends Life Women’s Tour of Britain. The undulating 93.8-kilometer route proved challenging, with two intermediate sprint competitions and two queen of the mountains competitions along Great Britain’s winding and narrow roads. Sharon Laws set her sights on the QOM competitions, climbing to second and third place respectively on the hilltops and amassing enough points to clench the queen of the mountains jersey after stage 1, with a 3-point lead over runner-up Marriane Vos.
With the mountains jersey in the team’s the possession, the riders turned their focus to the stage finish. Numerous breakaway attempts formed throughout the aggressive stage, the last of which was brought back with only 3 kilometers left in the race, setting the stage set for an exciting sprint for the finish. Channeling the support of thousands of fans lining the finishing straight, Hannah Barnes applied her local course knowledge and immense motivation to sprint to 3rd place against a truly world-class field. Hannah’s performance yielded not only a position on the podium, but also the best young rider and best of Britain jerseys after stage one.
Ecstatic with the day’s result and the overwhelming amount of support, podium finisher Hannah Barnes commented, “It was very special to race along my home training roads and the crowds made it even more so. I didn’t know what to expect with such a strong field, so to come away with 3rd is a great feeling! Earning two jerseys in addition to Sharon's climbers jersey made this a great day for the team.” Sharon Laws added, “I am totally blown away by the support on the race route - I was so proud to be British today. I’m also extremely happy to come away with the mountain jersey and to see Hannah earn 3rd on today’s stage. This is a great start to the tour!”
Sports Director Rachel Heal concluded, “This race is setting a new standard in women's racing, the level of organization and support is incredible and the crowds watching the race were huge. For the women's first foray into European racing, I couldn't be happier with today's result. To place 3rd on the stage behind the world’s top-ranked rider and the World Champion is a great achievement. To walk away from the first stage with three jerseys exceeds all our expectations.” The women of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team will race 118.5 kilometers from Hinkley to Bedford tomorrow with two more QOM competitions and two more intermediate sprints up for grabs.