Elinor Barker (Great Britain) surpassed her own expectations with a silver-medal winning performance in the junior women’s time trial at the UCI World Championships on Monday, but the Welshwoman was stunned to learn afterwards that she had missed out on the rainbow jersey by just two seconds.
Still only 17 years of age, the first year junior scorched around the circuit to dislodge Mieke Kröger (Germany) from top spot on the leader board. Barker had scarcely taken her place in the hot seat, however, when pre-race favourite Jessica Allen (Australia) came home to nudge her into second place.
“I was talking through it with my dad the other day, and we were thinking top fifteen, maybe ten at a push, that would be great,” Barker told Cyclingnews, “And then when they said I was winning and there were three riders left, I was like ‘no!’ But yeah, I’m really, really chuffed with that.”
With a mere three seconds separating the riders on the podium, Barker could be forgiven for contemplating what might have been as she sat in Copenhagen’s Radhus with the silver medal around her neck after the race, but she was level-headed in her assessment of the race and Allen’s victory.
“I knew she was a good time triallist so I sort of expected her to beat me,” Barker admitted. “I didn’t expect to be even in the hot seat area, so I wasn’t really that nervous. Just shocked.”
Raised on a steady diet of out-and-back British time trials, Barker enjoyed the novelty of the technical city centre circuit in Denmark. “British time trials tend to go straight out and straight back, so it was a nice change,” she said. “I knew it was going to be pan flat and quite cornery, so it was pretty much how I imagined it really.”
A silver medallist in the pursuit at the European championships earlier in the season, Barker is still eligible to compete in the junior Worlds next year and she is aware that her expectations will be shifted upwards in 2012 following her display in Copenhagen.
“It will give me a good idea of where to be, and it will give me good motivation in training but it will definitely be a big pressure too,” Barker said.
For now, however, the Cardiff native’s thoughts are focused solely on Friday’s road race, where she aims to help one of her teammates add to Britain’s medal tally.
“It’s already a successful week,” Barker smiled. “I’ll probably be working for other riders, our sprinters, in the road race. That’ll be a really good experience and hopefully we get somebody on the podium.”