For Elinor Barker 2015 was a year full of highs and lows.
She experienced the ecstasy of European team pursuit gold in Switzerland and the sorrow of losing out on the World Championship title to Australia.
MM spoke to Barker as she looks back at 2015 and ahead to the most important year of her career so far, with the 21-year-old in action this weekend in Hong Kong.
Good day all round for the whole GB squad today at #TWCHK , let’s be having you day 2!
— Elinor Barker (@elinorbarker) January 15, 2016
Britain has got used to world success in the women’s team pursuit, having triumphed at the World Championships since 2011.
Barker rode to team victory at Minsk and Cali and the Welsh cyclist described having to leave Paris with silver as the lowest point of her year.
“Not being world champions in the team pursuit for the first time in quite a long time was disappointing for us,” said Barker.
“But I think we’ve learnt quite a lot from the experience and you can’t win all the time so this year was probably a good time to lose it.”
Two-time Commonwealth medallist Barker spoke of the their progress and believes the team, which has featured Laura Trott, Katie Archibald and Joanna Rowsell Shand, has come a long way since February.
“We’ve pushed ourselves a lot and we’ve had massive training blocks so the rest of the World hasn’t really seen where we are.”
The team’s hard-work came to fruition in October when they won the final of the European Championships by catching their Russian opponents within just 2500 metres of the 4 kilometre race.
Barker, who turned 21 in September, said the Swiss event was the highlight of her year.
“The European Championships were my favourite races of 2015.
“We had a different kind of race because we ended up catching the opposition in the semi-final and the final, and we almost achieved a PB so we were really happy with that.”
Despite European success, 2015 saw Barker hampered by injury and ailments.
She overcame illness to help Britain secure bronze in the team pursuit during October’s Track World Cup in Colombia after falling ill on the day of competition.
Although she had personal challenges to tackle, Barker says there are positives to be taken from the obstacles she faced.
“I had quite a few injuries and illnesses which have been quite frustrating.
“I’ve had just over three months out over the whole year which is encouraging and frustrating in equal measure.
“It’s encouraging that I’m achieving despite the time off but I also wonder how much better I’d be and what times I’d be doing now if I hadn’t been injured.
“I’m hoping to be consistent in 2016, to be able to keep training and not have to have big chunks of time out.”
My front wheel got completely swallowed up by a puddle today. Basically did the cycling equivalent of this: http://t.co/52MOl2nB2e
— Elinor Barker (@elinorbarker) March 23, 2015
With Rio on everyone’s lips Barker’s focus is on the summer and building on the lessons of last year in upcoming events.
“I think 2016 is going to be the most important and most challenging year of my life so far.
“I don’t know what to expect but I’m sure it’ll be a very different experience and one I’m really looking forward to.”
And it seems that despite her success Barker still has to pinch herself.
“It’s the weirdest thing that I’m actually here doing this as my job.
“When we have meetings about the Olympics I think ‘I can’t believe this is actually happening!’”
Barker will compete in the sixth and final round of the Revolution Series being held at the National Cycling Centre on January 23.
Image courtesy of Elinor Barker via Instagram, with thanks.