After claiming the win in round one of the Tour Series in Redditch, 20 year old sensation Meg Barker absolutely decimated the field as part of a tactically perfect night in Motherwell to hand Team Breeze a commanding lead in the team overall standings, while further rubber-stamping her credentials as British Cycling’s up and coming star.
After solo rider Nikki Juniper (NJC-Biemme-Echelon) was pegged back by Barker, she dropped the hammer and soloed clear of the field, maintaining her effort for more than a quarter of an hour of the 45 minute race. As the laps ticked down, it was clear that Barker had the race wrapped up and she eventually soloed home 36 seconds clear of the chase, led by the very impressive Juniper. However, the Tour Series is about more than just individual results, as the teams require three finishers up the front of the race, as the fastest trio will win the team prize. Breeze were untouchable there, putting Abi Dentus in third, Jess Roberts in 6th and Jenny Holl in 8th, to round out an amazing day for the team, comprised solely of U23 British women.
Barker, who splits her time between the road and track, spoke with U23 Cycling Zone after coming off the podium several times, first for the win, secondly for the individual points win and then again for the team win. Barker also becomes the first of hopefully many U23 women to be featured on the site. Despite making it look effortless, Meg insisted she had had a tough evening’s work.
“My legs are a bit sore now, if that looked easy, it definitely wasn’t. I was grimacing quite a lot. I went pretty early and was out there alone for quite a while, but it paid off in the end.”
Scotland’s own Eileen Roe was the only other woman in Tour Series history to win two rounds of the series back-to-back. While she has done that twice, Meg’s win tonight means she finds herself going down in the history books, which Meg described as “a nice bonus”, despite the fact she was unaware of her achievement, although her next thought was to try and “add a few more” wins in the series.
Megan, whose older sister Elinor is also a successful dual sport athlete, with success on the road as well as World, European and Olympic titles on the boards of the velodrome, will have a shot at becoming the first woman to score a hat-trick of wins when she lines up for round three at Aberdeen in 48hrs time.
“We train in Motherwell tomorrow, then racing in Aberdeen on Thursday. I think there is three more rounds next week, so hopefully we’ll be racing there too.”
With the series now a fifth of the way done, the picture of which individual riders and teams are up for the overall competitions at the end of the series is now becoming clear. Given Barker and Breeze’s QuickStep-like strength, there is no surprise they are hungry for overall success.
“I think the overall is a big goal. This kind of racing really suits our team and we always go in looking to win and it’s suited us well so far, so we hope we can carry our form through.”
As we touched on earlier, the Tour Series is not just about individual success. The team win means as much to Barker as her individual victory does, and both she and her teammates enjoyed their moment on the podium together, successfully winning the team classification and, as a result, extending their lead in the competition.
“I’m really happy that the girls were able to back it up behind me. I was out there with full confidence that they’d get a result too. If you get the win and the team takes care of itself, you can’t complain.”
It is not hard to see why Meg is so popular amongst roadside supporters and spoken so highly of by her rivals and teammates: her talent is so easy to see and she is such a classy bike rider, who wins with style. Remember the name, as the heir to the throne of women’s cycling in the UK is not just waiting for the crown, she is actively seeking to wear it right now. Look out for Meg in the remainder of the Tour Series rounds, and hopefully at next month’s Women’s Tour of Britain, where she will compete against the best in the world.