Published: 19 June 2013
Report: Scott Hobro
Elinor Barker has backed Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling to make an impression at the team’s first ever British Cycling National Road Race and Time Trial Championships.
The British based squad, launched in January, contains potential winners for both the time trial in East Ayrshire and the road race in Glasgow.
World champion Barker is joined by team pursuit Olympic champions Laura Trott, Dani King and Joanna Rowsell plus British Cycling Olympic Academy Programme rider Amy Roberts for the time trial and road race.
And Barker, who like her team is making a debut appearance at the British road championships, thinks the group is well positioned to form a challenge for the national jerseys.
Barker said: “All of the girls have a team pursuit background, we’re just used to leaving our legs on the road or on the track for another rider so I think everyone is going to be all in for whomever the race leader happens to be.
“I’m really excited, it will be good practice for the Commonwealth Games,” the British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme rider added, with Glasgow to host the XX Commonwealth Games next year.
“It’s good for the British athletes to get a head start on everyone else really, to see what the course is like, how it affects the race and what the likely race outcome is, is it going to be an attack or a sprint?”
As well as winning a rainbow jersey on the track, the 18-year-old became junior women’s world time trial champion in Valkenburg, Netherlands last year, 12 months after taking silver in Copenhagen.
But the Welshwoman has downplayed her chances of victory on Thursday instead earmarking Joanna Rowsell to be in contention on the 35.2-kilometre route.
“I think it will be a bit much to put too much expectation on it,” Barker said.
“I’m going to have quite a stressful week beforehand. I’ve got an A-level exam the day before so I’m going to get up to Scotland really late the night before.
“It’ll be good fun to get stuck in and I haven’t done a time trial of that length in a competition situation so it’ll be good experience for me. But we’ve got Joanna Roswell on the team who is just on such good form at the moment.
“A lot of focus will be on her I think and I think she’ll battle for the win.”
The trip north will be another step in Barker’s development and she admits there is much to learn about senior women’s racing having made the transition from the junior ranks.
But in Wiggle Honda, managed by Australian Rochelle Gilmore, Barker has found the ideal environment to continue her education both on and off the bike.
“I’ve been really lucky with the team I’ve managed to find myself in,” said Barker, whose races with Wiggle Honda have included the Omloop van Borsele and Dwars door de Westhoek.
“I don’t think I’d be professional this year, especially staying in school, I’m really lucky that they’ve been pretty understanding with that.
“There is just a really great team feel. It is such good fun on top of all the good quality training and that kind of thing. It’s a fun team to be a part of which I think is important."
On the variations between junior and senior racing, Barker added: “I think what I have found a lot different straight away is the bigger field. It’s two or three times bigger than the field I am used to at juniors.
“A good position in a junior field is not such a good position in a senior field. In the first quarter of the bunch there is still going to be 50 girls in front of you so that’s been the biggest thing to get used so far.”
Highlights of the British Cycling National Road Championships will be broadcast on ITV4 on Monday 24 June at 7pm.