Peloton Watch
  Elinor Barker: Are you Rio ready?  
  June 2nd 2016  
  Are you Rio Ready?  
  Four years ago Elinor Barker was one of the top juniors in the world winning three medals at the 2012 Junior Track World Championships - silver in the omnium and individual pursuit and bronze in the team pursuit. Before going on to claim the time trial world title on the road, improving on her silver medal from the year before.

Now Barker stands as one of the top track endurance riders in the world. Not just a contender for selection for the Rio Olympic Games but a leading contender for gold with Great Britain in the women's team pursuit.

The 21 year old's record the past four years is one few can claim to match with two world titles in the team pursuit, having broken the world record on numerous occasions as well as three European titles in a row. Plus an ever growing number of World Cup gold and national titles.

Just over two months away from stepping on to the track in Rio, Barker is confident she and the Great Britain team will be ready as they look to defend their title against a growing field of competition.

In March you posted a photo asking the question 'Are You Rio Ready?' and your caption was "Maybe not quite yet" so now two months from Rio are you Rio ready?

Not quite yet, there's still a lot of hard work to be put in during the next six weeks but the training is going well and I'm confident that we will be prepared.

Home World Championships for you this year heading in did you feel the expectations on the women's team pursuit squad were greater than in the past for a home championships and to regain the rainbow jersey?

It would have been a dream come true to have won the rainbow jersey in a home worlds, however anybody who follows the sport closely would have been aware of how strong the competition had become. There were five teams at worlds who were all very close and could have won.

After a disappointing team pursuit qualifying you bounced back and came together to win bronze. It might not have been gold and the rainbow jersey but how much did it mean to stand on the podium?

It meant a huge amount. Maybe it meant more because we were coming back from disappointment but it was very special to have broken the national record and get ourselves on the podium.

There was a lot of criticism of the team following your bronze medal particularly because of past success was it hard to read or hear what was being said or did you manage to block it out?

It was fairly easy to block out, even though we did receive a lot of criticism. I understand that it's somebody's job to write an emotive and exciting piece about the racing. So if its not a tremendous win its a shocking defeat in the media, even if we've had a fairly average ride. How we dealt with it as a team was much more important than external opinions.

GB dominated the women's team pursuit for so long but Australia and United States have won the last two world titles and Canada won two World Cups last season. Do you feel the level and the competition has stepped up a lot the past 18-24 months?

Yes I do - massively! It's easy to forget that women's team pursuit is a reasonably new event with the 4km 4 man version being even more recent. So it makes sense that after a little while more and more teams are gaining knowledge and with it momentum. It makes for some exciting racing and the games should exhibit that.

Elinor Barker takes a brief break from training to explore Valencia.

Been on a training camp in Valencia how did it go?

I've spent a lot of time out in Valencia in the last year - it's becoming like a second home. The camps have been going really well and we're fortunate enough to have the track, gym and decent roads as well as lovely weather. Dream combination :)

Close bond between the team how important is that in training and spending day in and out with each other?

It's very important, especially when giving and receiving criticism. It's essential to feel comfortable with one another if you're to give the necessary feedback to help push the team to improve. If you're always worrying about offending each other it makes it difficult.

You have raced every team pursuit at every competition you have gone to (World Championships, World Cups and European Championships) since joining the elite team quite an achievement on its own what do you put that consistency down to?

I have no idea! I think I'm a fairly constant rider in general - I don't have a massive strength that I'm known for being my "thing," but I can keep up in most situations.

Four years ago you were still a junior winning silver at Junior Track World Championships in the omnium and IP and bronze in the TP and then the time trial world title on the road. Did you think four years on would be a leading contender not just to ride in Rio but for gold?

I always hoped it but never dared to think that far ahead. It was always about the next race or the next world champs, rather than a four year plan to get to the Olympics for me.

Commonwealth Games medallist in points and scratch races and have won medals at World Cups and European Championships in individual events. Has it been difficult to largely sacrifice your individual ambitions the last couple of years and just focus on the team pursuit?

I haven't really had to sacrifice individual events until the last 12 months. In this time I've still raced individual events at Nationals and European Championships as well as at revolutions. It doesn't feel like a sacrifice that all my training at the moment is tailored to team pursuit because getting in the team is the most important thing to me, but the thought of getting back into bunch and road racing next year is definitely exciting.
 © 2016