Elinor Barker’s 2017 has not gone the way even she had expected, but you won’t find her complaining any time soon – with the Olympic team pursuit champion looking ahead to this month’s European Championships.
When the time comes to look back on her aims for the year at least some won’t be crossed off, but if you thought that would lend itself to an unsuccessful 12 months, then think again.
In April Barker, a self-confessed bridesmaid initially at this year’s UCI Track Cycling World Championships, took centre stage, picking up her very own points race gold to supplement the two silvers in the scratch race and Madison.
The 23-year-old will therefore head into this winter’s track season – including the TISSOT UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Manchester – with confidence brimming and a sense of expectation from herself and a British crowd that have already seen her achieving for years.
And perhaps most positively of all for the Olympic gold medallist, the next 12 months could offer even more.
“It’s been a successful year, I haven’t really achieved the goals I had set out for at the start of the year, but in working towards them I’ve found myself able to tick things off in other areas which has been a massive plus,” said Barker, who recently rejoined the Wiggle-High5 team for 2018.
“I’m pretty happy with the year to date, but there’s a lot still to come. The track season really kicks in now, there’s a lot to be excited about both in this year and next, too.
“We’ve got the Worlds, Commonwealths and European Games all next year, a big block of track racing which we’re really excited for.
“You have to balance yourself, I’ve got a road calendar to maintain too so it is quite tough, this is the last year to do as much racing as you can, then you spend the last two years before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games really focused.”
At 23, it’s easy to forget how young Barker still is, already an Olympic, three-time World and three-time European champion.
But this November will see her return to where it all began, with the TISSOT UCI Track Cycling World Cup returning to Manchester after a four-year hiatus.
It is, unsurprisingly, a place that holds plenty of memories for Barker, also representing the yard-stick to show just how much she has progressed.
But having gone from nervous rookie to leader of the pack in those four years, there is a renewed sense of excitement for the Welsh star about who will take to the track alongside her.
She added: “One of the first World Cups I ever had was in Manchester, I remember it being really cool and a great experience, I can’t really wait to go back there.
“I remember being really nervous, I was only a teenager and it was the year after the London Olympics, there was so much interest, you felt a bit of pressure but it was such a great experience to get.
“Being at home means that we get to have two squads, we’ll have a great showing of British riders and not just the names people know, but a lot of future stars and younger riders will come through and have a real chance to show what they can do.
“Every single year you get a new crop of riders who are young and fast and very, very strong – they’ll be doing everything they can to nip away at you so there is always that incentive to keep on getting better.”