The standard of British women’s domestic road racing is getting stronger each year, according to Olympic and world track champion Elinor Barker.
Barker, riding for Drops, claimed seventh in the first round of the HSBC UK | National Road Series – the East Cleveland Klondike – on April 14.
The race, which marked Barker’s return to the series, was won by Anna Henderson, of Brother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm, and afterwards the Rio team pursuit champion took to social media to comment on how the standard had ‘increased massively’ in her absence.
Barker told British Cycling:
“I don’t really know what a good season for me personally will look like, yet, because the standard of women’s cycling is growing every single year. More people are now full-time and able to actually put their heart and soul into it, so the standard just gets higher and higher every year.”
With the Tour de Yorkshire, OVO Energy Women’s Tour and newly-established Women’s Tour of Scotland - along with the eight-round HSBC UK | National Road Series - all promising high-quality women’s racing on British soil before September’s UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire, 2019 is set to be a huge year for women’s racing.
Barker, a former junior world time trial champion on the road, believes that the ever-increasing standard makes it difficult to know what a realistic goal for the year may be.
“Klondike is the only national series event that I’ve entered at the moment, but I’m hoping I can fit some more around my racing schedule, which I’ve planned up until the Tour of California so far.
“It’s difficult, juggling the track and the road – I never know where I’m going to be at the start of each road season. So, the aim at the moment is to get a few races under my belt and then see what my goals might be for the year.”
Alongside Barker in Drops colours in East Cleveland was her younger sister, Megan, who is forging a similar path to Elinor having graduated to British Cycling’s track podium programme.
Of her sister’s progress in the sport, Elinor added:
“Meg’s doing so well – I’m so happy for her. She’s had some really serious illnesses in the last few years, so it would have been really understandable if she had wanted to take a step back from cycling at a few points in time. For her to be here and on the podium squad, doing really well, makes me really happy for her.”
Both the men’s and women’s HSBC UK | National Road Series continue with round 2 – the Chestnut Homes Lincoln Grand Prix – on May 12.