Elinor Barker took gold in Berlin last year. Pic: Getty Images.

Welsh Sister Act Gearing Up For Britain

She may have already have Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth gold medals in her collection, but Elinor Barker is going to have to keep a close eye on younger sister Megan in the build-up to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Both Barkers have been named in the British teams for the first two rounds of the UCI Track World Cup series, with Megan getting first shot at the Team Pursuit in Paris this weekend – the event in which Elinor struck gold in Rio.

Elinor, who won the Commonwealth Games Points Race title for Team Wales on the Gold Coast in April, will then get back on the track with Katie Archibald, Ellie Dickinson and Laura Kenny in Milton, Canada on 26-28 October.

There are further rounds in Berlin and London (14-16 December).

As the penultimate track season before Tokyo 2020, the World Cup series will see riders compete for qualifying points for the Olympic Games. That, says GB Cycling director of performance Stephen Park, brings a new dimension to the mood around the squad.

“Qualifying points really focus the minds of our coaches and riders. For the first two years of an Olympic cycle you’re slowly building, but now we’re really beginning to accelerate the programme towards Tokyo,” said Park.

“Competition to get into our Olympic team will be incredibly tough, which means at every training session and every race, there’s now that little edge of everyone trying to show what they can do. We’re really beginning to feel that excitement now growing within the team.

“We believe that internal competition is essential to ensure we have the strongest possible team representing Great Britain in 2020.

“We’ve got that great mix of youth, experience and enthusiasm in the squad. We’ve got riders who’ve been to one, two or maybe even three Olympic Games, and then some who are really pushing for positions to be first-time Olympians.

“Those riders who have come through out pathway programme more recently are really creating that upward pressure on the more experienced riders and challenging for those positions in the team.”

http://twitter.com/WelshCycling/status/1052269643145064448

Competition for places is stiffest in the women’s endurance squad, where Emily Kay, Neah Evans, Welsh rider Manon Lloyd, Emily Nelson and Ellie Dickinson have all stepped up to the mark post-Rio. Megan joined Elinor in the British teams at the World Cup last year and has won European junior titles in the past.

The youngsters are all now challenging Olympic champions Kenny, Archibald and Elinor Barker for places across the three Olympic endurance events.

“Within our women’s endurance programme we’ve got a bit of an embarrassment of riches,” admitted Park.“Laura’s return (following the birth of her first child) adds great experience, as do Katie and Elinor, although they’re all still incredibly young.

“Then, the likes of Ellie, Neah, Emily, Manon and Emily have all emerged and are also fighting for places in Tokyo. It puts us in a great place, and it’s going to serve us well not just for 2020 for also for Paris in 2024.”

UCI Track World Cup, Paris (19-21 October, 2018)
Women’s Sprint: Lauren Bate, Katy Marchant
Men’s Sprint: Jack Carlin, Ryan Owens, Joe Truman
Women’s Endurance: Megan Barker, Neah Evans, Emily Kay, Rebecca Raybould
Men’s Endurance: Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Kian Emadi, Mark Stewart, Oliver Wood

UCI Track World Cup, Milton (26-28 October, 2018)
Women’s Sprint: Lauren Bate, Katy Marchant
Men’s Sprint: Phil Hindes, Jason Kenny, Ryan Owens
Women’s Endurance: Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker, Ellie Dickinson, Laura Kenny
Men’s Endurance: Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Kian Emadi, Mark Stewart, Oliver Wood

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