“It’s pretty nerve racking,” admits Barker. “The expectation when you race with GB is to win. It is the first World Championships in the cycle leading up to Rio so it is usual for there to be quite a young team. It’s about experience but winning is a priority – these girls [Trott and King] don’t want to lose their jersey. It’s still really important to them, you can see in training they are totally motivated. They really do care – it is not just another title. It’s a big deal.”
Trott admits these championships are a “stepping stone” – she restated her long-term ambition of overtaking Hoy’s medal haul – but is equally adamant that she and King want to keep their grip on the title, especially as this is the final time the women’s pursuit will be a three-strong team racing over 3km. From post-Minsk it will be four riders over 4km, which only increases the likelihood of Barker becoming a constant member of the team even when Rowsell returns.
From the summer when Barker moves to Manchester – in the build-up to these World Championships she has been retiring to a hotel with her school books after training – she will be fully integrated into the academy programme, one for which these World Championships will offer an instructive health check.
Barker will move north the very day she completes her A-levels in biology and PE. It will mark the start of her full-time cycling career, one for which she already appears ready made.
“It’s all been drilled into me,” she says of her time in the development programme. “Making sure every part of your life is as professional as it can be. It’s being a cyclist 24/7.”