Clancy's call gives Barker bite for Tokyo
Cycling Track

Clancy's call gives Barker bite for Tokyo

17 April 2020 / 11:46

Elinor Barker says picking the brains of ageless wonder Ed Clancy helped her find the positives in the postponement of the Olympics.

Clancy is track cycling’s very own Peter Pan, still a totem of team pursuit aged 35, on the cusp of retirement but committed to a bid for a fourth Olympic gold at next year’s rearranged Games.

Barker, likewise doubling down on a defence of the women’s team pursuit crown in Tokyo, emerged from a conversation with Clancy infused with hope.

“Initially (postponement) was hard to take but I’m feeling positive now and I’m at peace with it,” said the 25-year-old.

"Turning that mindset around has come with some help from friends and team-mates. I spoke to Ed and he sounded insanely positive about it.

“He was thinking of retiring this year, so it’s having a far bigger impact on his life than mine. He just said ‘look, I’m staying positive. It’s not affected us too badly and we’re all secure.’

“Ed was really pleased to have another year of training. I just think he’s enjoying being at home with his cat at the moment!

“We both had a while to let the announcement sink in. He loves racing, I don’t think he wants to retire because he’s sick of it, he’s just come to that point in his career. 

“It feels different because it's impacting so many people at once. We can lean on each other and there's a comfort in it being a shared experience."

It has been a surreal time for athletes up and down the country but the Welsh star’s journey from rainbow jersey to lockdown inside three weeks has been jarring.

She was crowned world champion in Berlin at the start of March, seeing off rivals such as USA’s Jennifer Valente and Netherlands’ Kirsten Wild in the points race to grab her fifth global gold.

Barely having come down from the high of a third individual world title, Barker is now in lockdown near Manchester and holding onto the simple pleasure of daily rides into Cheshire countryside.

Experimenting with wheelie bin weights and trying to drink a gin and tonic without getting off her bike, the Olympic champion is doing her best to embrace a new reality.

Barker is revelling in the freedom of being able to get out on her bike, although admits she's often taken the path less travelled.

“Berlin feels like a lifetime ago given what's happened since then,” she said.

“It was a really good Championships for me. Winning in my final event means you leave on a high and I felt really proud to win on the last day.

"Normally we're talking about the pressure of winning gold medals and this crisis has put all of the problems of a month or two months ago massively into perspective.

“The freedom of being on a bike means a lot at the moment. It completely takes you away from the caged feeling of being inside and it’s so positive for people’s physical and mental health.

“I’ve been using apps to find the most popular routes and avoiding them, I’ve tried to stick to quieter roads.

“It hasn’t always gone amazingly, I've ended up doing some unintentional mountain biking and off-roading! I’ve need needed to cross fields, climb over fences, stuff like that.

“It’s probably not great for the wheels but it’s good fun, actually.”

Sportsbeat 2020