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  Elinor Barker with new motivation as she focuses on bunch races at 2017 Track Worlds  
  April 11th 2017  
  Elinor Barker with her Olympic gold medal. L-R: Rowsell, Barker, Trott and Archibald. Photo: Action Plus Sports Images  
  When a then 18-year-old Elinor Barker lined up at the 2013 Track World Championships in Minsk, Belarus she was the new rider on the team, joining Olympic Champions Laura Trott and Dani King in the women's endurance squad.

Four years later when Barker steps on to the track in Hong Kong this week she is the most experienced rider in the women's endurance group for Great Britain. Now one of the most successful women's track endurance cyclists with two world titles, a World Record and an Olympic gold medal among a fast growing palmares.

In Belarus her focus was the team pursuit, in Hong Kong she has her eye on individual success having taken a step away from the team pursuit this season.

August 2016 saw four years of hard work pay off for Barker as she stormed to Olympic gold in Rio with Trott, Katie Archibald and Joanna Rowsell.

"The team pursuit final in Rio was a dream. Technically it just felt perfect and we were all completely in sync with each other. I still can't believe that we did a 4.10 after it seeming like such an unattainable goal for so long.

"I was so proud to stand on the podium with my teammates and sing the national anthem, especially with my family in the crowd."

Many might see winning Olympic gold a life-changing event but not for Barker who remains as down to earth as ever. Freely admitting she didn't want it to be life changing and just loves rider her bike.

"I don't feel like my life has changed much since Rio, and I never wanted it to be life changing. I love my life as a cyclist and wouldn't chance it for the world. Training is just as hard and the races are just as challenging.

"I'm glad I took some time out after to relax, travel and enjoy doing whatever I fancied without stressing about training, although by the end I was desperate to get back into training," Barker added with her competitive side on the bike still evident.

While Barker may be best known for her exploits in the team pursuit as a junior she won silver medals at the Junior Track World Championships in the omnium and individual pursuit.

Since Rio, Barker hasn't lined up in a single team pursuit but has remained a regular on the podium on the world stage. In her first international race back from Rio she earned silver in the scratch race at the European Championships and has only gone from strength to strength since then. Points race gold at the Apeldoorn World Cup followed as did the British Madison title and bronze in the scratch race in LA, in a sign of her versatility on the bike.

"I've really enjoyed the freedom of racing as an individual on the track over the last few months, although I do sometimes miss the reassurance of having four girls in the same position as me to call upon for guidance or reassurance when needed," Barker explained of stepping away from the team pursuit.

"However the racing opportunities I've had since Rio have been really exciting, especially now that the Madison has been added. Focusing on bunch races has given me a new motivation and satisfied my love for the track.

After track season comes to a close in Hong Kong, where Barker is hoping to again pull on a rainbow jersey she has set herself another challenge. The road time trial. An event she claimed the junior world title in 2012, her final as a junior. Having missed gold the previous year by just two seconds.

"I'm really looking forward to getting my teeth stuck in to the time trial this year. It's something I've always wanted to come back to as a senior since winning junior worlds but never had time for because of my track commitments.

"I've no idea how I'll fare against the rest of the world yet, or even the rest of the U.K. at the moment, which makes it all the more exciting and challenging."
 © 2016