World Champion Elinor Barker will ramp up her preparations for the Olympics when she races at the Manchester Six Day this weekend.
Barker, who’ll take to the boards tomorrow with partner and former Madison world champion Katie Archibald, said that Six day races have been key for the squads Madison preparations.
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She said: “There’s only so many chances to get a ride and to get that experience in Madison. It’s not really something you can replicate your trading, like you can with the team pursuit. You need to have a high quality field there and they’ve been really, really good.”
Although Barker said that six day Madisons can sometimes be tactically different to the one-off Madison of the Olympics, as some riders will begin thinking about their overall placing towards the end of a Six Day, there is valuable lessons that can be learned.
“It’s really about getting into how other teams ride tactically and refining skills like riding in the bunch and how to save as much money as possible or how to spend it in the most economical way that you possibly can.”
Barker was part of the British team’s pairing in the Madison at the World Championships in Berlin last month. There she rode with Neah Evans, who is also riding the Manchester Six Day with former Madison World Champion Emily Nelson, but the pair saw their Worlds medal hopes dashed when Evans crashed.
Even before that though the race had been split to pieces and the Dutch pairing of Amy Pieters and Kirsten Wild stamped their authority on it by stringing out the bunch at every opportunity.
Barker says the event has evolved substantially since it’s introduction in the elite women’s calendar in 2016. “I say it’s been quite a steep learning curve,” says Barker. “Since 2017 Worlds I’ve raced three out of four Worlds there have been and I can say that they’ve all been quite different in the way that they’ve been ridden.
“When we’re doing analysis and deciding how we want to ride it’s quite hard to draw a standard race because they’ve all been so different and there’s so few of them. Plus teams are all kind of like catching up at different rates.”
She explains that tactics have evolved as the top squads all learn from other team’s mistakes and try to predict what they will do next time as well as evolving their own riding.