ON TOP OF THE WORLD
Britain’s Elinor Barker sheds her ‘bridesmaid’ tag and celebrates after winning the women’s points race to strike gold on the final day of the World Track Cycling Championships in Hong Kong.
ELINOR BARKER shed her bridesmaid tag to win Track World Championships gold in Hong Kong.
After claiming her second silver medal of the week in the Madison with Emily Nelson on Saturday, the 22-year-old Cardiff racer was given a solo focus here and delivered gold at the final attempt.
Britain finished the five-day event with five medals, two of them gold, and joint fourth on the medal table with Germany. Australia led the way with three golds and 11 medals in all.
Barker emulated fellow team pursuit Olympic champion Katie Archibald’s omnium win on Friday.
Asked if the old phrase still applied, she said: “No! At least I didn’t get third.
“I’ve come so close so many times. I feel like I’m a constant bunch race bridesmaid.”
It was touch and go in the 100lap (25km) points race.
Sarah Hammer, of the United States, made an audacious solo attack to take a second lap of the field and Barker wrested the initiative from the eventual runner-up with time running out.
She finished with 59 points, eight clear of Hammer, while Kirsten Wild, of Holland, took bronze.
“It was awful to ride. Absolutely horrible,” said Barker.
“I was so nervous. I was sickly nervous. I was seriously running out of laps (to catch Hammer). I think it was six to go and my coach (Chris Newton) just shouted ‘sprint’ which I think was the only thing I could do.
“If I didn’t sprint I was never going to get there. It was just about trying to get to Hammer.”
It was a first individual senior world title for Barker, junior road time-trial world champion in 2012, who previously won team pursuit gold in 2013 and 2014. She also finished second to her team pursuit team-mate Laura Kenny in the points race at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Four-time Olympic champion Kenny was absent here, pregnant with her first child with six-time Olympic gold medallist Jason Kenny.
Barker referred to “years and years of mistakes” in bunch races, yet she has focused on team pursuit for the last four years, as she referenced the successes of Kenny, 25 this month.
“I am still 22 but considering the country I am from and the calibre and age of the girls who succeed in Great Britain, 22 seems a bit old really. I probably need to start planning for retirement and babies and that.”
Barker is planning to put her hand up for selection for the omnium in Tokyo, where Kenny (nee Trott) could seek a third successive title.