Elinor Barker: World champion aims for peak condition at Tokyo Olympics


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Newly-crowned world champion Elinor Barker believes she is heading towards the Olympics in peak condition.

Barker won Great Britain’s only track World Championships gold in Berlin with points race success and also collected a silver in the women’s team pursuit.

Now the Welsh cyclist is aiming to peak at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in July and August.

“I would like to say I am fairly close to the best form I have been in,” said Barker.

The 25-year-old added: “Hopefully I will be able to refine that over the next few months and make sure I am peaking at the right time in the summer.”

Barker does not receive the limelight as other leading cyclists, but her track record is impressive with 13 major medals.

This includes her 2016 Olympics team pursuit success and five World Championships gold medals with three individual triumphs.

“I think if anything I appreciate the medals more and more,” said Barker.

“I won the first one when I was 18 and I think I had the naivety to think that is how every World Championship would be, I’d win a gold and that would be nice and easy.

“It takes having a few less successful years to really appreciate it. So I think this is one of the better feelings I have had at a World Championship.

“I prefer winning in a team to be honest, there is that nice feeling of working together towards a goal.”

Elinor Barker

Controlling Coronavirus

The Tokyo Olympics are the next major target although there are doubts surrounding the event because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“It would be very unfortunate but it’s not something I can control for because it’s so out of my hands. Athletes will be training and preparing as normal and hoping for the best,” said Barker.

“We have been hypothesizing a bit, as most people have.

“There was a race in the UAE where cyclists were quarantined over the weekend and we spoke about the possibility of that happening at the World Championships.

“The kind of feelings people have about getting ill at the moment generally as a population is how athletes live their everyday life, constantly using hand gel and avoiding anybody who is ill.

“Performance wise I am just as nervous about getting a common cold as I am anything more serious.

“It’s a little bit unnerving, but there is always some kind of drama going on in an Olympic year.”

GB’s return of four World Championship medals was their worst in an Olympic year since 2000.

Team GB topped the medal table at London 2012 before replicating their success at the 2016 Olympics.

By contrast, they were seventh in Berlin this month, with Sir Chris Hoy warning British dominance may be coming to an end, but Barker expects an improvement going into Japan.

“I think we are in a fairly good place,” said Barker.

“There were a huge amount of personal bests over the weekend.

“There are a lot of people who had great rides that did not result in medals because of another nation doing something incredible.

“I would like to think we will be coming back from Tokyo with medals. “

Tokyo targets

Elinor Barker & Katie Archibald

Barker will be aiming for success in the team pursuit and Madison in Tokyo. In Germany, the British quartet finished second behind United States of America, while Madison partner Neah Evans crashed before the duo finished sixth.

“Carnage is the best way to describe the Madison,” said Barker.

“It is so unpredictable, messy and all over the place, but it is so exciting. We had bad luck, my team-mate had a crash which put us out of contention for the last couple of sprints.

“But we were sort of out of the race at that stage anyway. Personally I am quite pleased with how I rode. It is not the sort of race like the team pursuit where the results are unlikely to change to much in the Olympics.

“The Madison can be completely different. It has only been around for four years (in women’s cycling).

“I am conflicted about that because I’m happy I’m around at a time where I can ride in it and it is quickly becoming one of my favourite events.”

Barker and Katie Archibald will ride in the Six Day Manchester event (13-15 March) where they will take on fellow British duo Evans and Emily Nelson.

“Manchester is a chance to practice and get some raw Madison experience,” Barker said.

“It’s one of a few opportunities left to practice against a really good field. It’s also a lot of fun and more relaxed than the World Championships and World Cup events.”

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