The chance sighting of the Maindy Flyers Cycling Club, while on her way to a swimming class in her home town of Cardiff, led 10-year-old Elinor Barker to turn her back on the pool in favour of the velodrome and set her on the way to becoming a World, Commonwealth, European and Olympic Champion and a World Record holder by only 22 years old.
As a junior Elinor quickly made her mark by winning gold in the Individual Pursuit at the National Track Championships in 2011 and by winning the women’s junior Time Trial gold at the 2012 UCI Road World Championships in Limburg, Netherlands.
Elinor, whose younger sister Megan is also a successful competitive cyclist, quickly made her name as a senior being a specialist in the Team Pursuit event, having won world titles in 2013 and 2014 as well as a hat-trick of golds at the UEC European Track Champs between 2013 and 2015. She also played a pivotal role in the team breaking the world record numerous times – most notably to win gold at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
On the road, Elinor joined the Matrix Fitness Pro Cycling Team from Wiggle Honda in 2015 and completed her first Women’s Tour in that same year. In 2017 Elinor took her first individual stage win at the BeNe Tour and took part in her first senior Road World Championships in the Time trial and Road race in Bergen. Elinor returned to Wiggle High 5 for the 2018 season on the road before joining Drops for 2019.
Success on the track continued for Elinor post Rio with medals at the European Champs and Track World Cups, and won multiple medals at World Championships. Elinor produced a stunning performance to win points race gold at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018. This was Wales’ first cycling title of the Games and meant that she became the first Welsh cyclist to win a Commonwealth title on the track since Auckland 1990.
In 2020, in Berlin at the Track World Champs, again Elinor won gold in the points race, being the only rainbow stripes that GB came away with and to finish a ‘different’ year, Elinor came home with three medals from the European Track Champs.
In 2021, Elinor represented Team GB in Tokyo, coming home with a silver medal in the Team Pursuit. Later in that year, Elinor announced that she was expecting her first child, alongside her decision to move to the road and join the newly formed Women’s WorldTour road team, Uno-X.
Little Nico was born in March 2022, and Elinor is loving life as a mum and also getting back to her training.
Within 5 months of giving birth to Nico, Elinor rode in the British National Championships, and also raced for Team Wales in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Elinor enjoyed being a part of the peloton again and being competitive and is looking forward to racing with Uno X.
Off the track, Elinor was voted the 2012 BBC Wales Junior Sportswoman of the Year, received a nomination for 2016 & 2018 BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year and received an MBE from the Queen in the New Year Honours 2016.