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A gem in Britain’s cycle racing calendar
Consistency, determination and professionalism come to mind when you think of Yanto Barker.
After a rewarding season in 2014 where his commitment and hard work paid off to win The Lincoln Grand Prix, The Spring Cup, and he became overall winner of the season-long Elite Road series, including riding the Tour of Britain, this is a man at the peak of his game.
With a move from Raleigh GAC to the newly formed One Pro Cycling, Yanto Barker, the most consistent rider of the CiCLE Classic yet to enjoy an individual win, tells us a little about the coming season and his new team.
Yanto told us: “The first thing about my new team is they are all younger than me. I’ve been joking with everyone that this is the first year ever I’ve been the oldest in the team. Apart from being younger, they are all talented and ambitious and I’m really looking forward to racing with them.”
He continued: “The team’s been set up by Matt Prior and Simon Chappell and includes some of my old teammates from 2013 and 2014 and team Coach Steve Benton. We are looking to perform well in the UK at premier calendar tour series and UCI races and since spending time in Majorca on our first training camp, I am very excited about the prospect of 2015”
Looking back, it was in the 2014 CiCLE Classic, where Barker, having been in the breakaway all day, encountered a race-changing mechanical in the last few kilometres. The ill-timed incident blew his chances and meant he finished out of the Top 10 for the first time in the race.
When asked if he felt he has unfinished business on the course, he said:
“Definitely I would like to win. But I’m happy I’ve been part of a winning team and on the podium a number of times so I am pleased with my performances at the race. I love the CiCLE Classic, it’s good for me.”
In 2013 he supported former teammate Ian Wilkinson in his double ride to glory and in the same year gained a team podium success with Team UK Youth. With his team success in the race, he has come to understand and love many of the quirks of the CiCLE Classic and as such, has a soft spot for this Midlands based international pro cycle race.
When asked what he liked in particular about the CiCLE Classic, he said:
“Everything! Ha ha… I like the course, the crowd, the time of year, the mud, the gravel, the large bunch that starts and the beer you win on the podium!
He continued: “Hearing your name called out during a race is great and my favourite section on the CiCLE Classic course has to be Owston. I don’t know all the sectors by name but the cheering and support is great. Then you have the Somerberg which is another favourite section.”
“As a rider, seeing the increased support for pro cycling around the country, year on year, makes me feel appreciated that people recognise the efforts we make. It doesn’t happen in all jobs and if people show they care and support us out there, it’s very motivating.”
As many aficionados of the CiCLE Classic know, it is a testing race for the hard men who can battle in all weathers and surfaces with 11 off-road sections and a series of short, sharp bergs.
In the notorious 2012 race, extreme wet and wild conditions broke many of the riders competing and only 22 managed to get to the finish in Melton Mowbray. Barker finished 5th.
From Yanto’s perspective it was certainly a year to remember, he said:
“The cold on that day was one of the hardest days racing I’ve ever done! “
But he continued:
“The most difficult thing I’ve had to deal with at the CiCLE Classic is certainly the disappointment of not winning!”
Back in the early days, Yanto developed an interest in pro cycling in his mid teens. An interest that was somewhat unusual as none of his family were remotely sporty, but despite that he managed to find enough motivation to follow his own path and make it happen. He grew up in Devon and learned every little lane around where he lived. He somehow created a single mindedness and ability to focus on what was important to him and what it meant to be a professional, which in turn meant that he absorbed himself totally in his sport.
“Soon after I became a full time cyclist, I moved abroad. Often I would go more then three months at a time not talking to any of my family when I was living in France. Training in France meant that I learned a new culture, but I also learned about the bigger races in a large peloton of 200+. It’s uncommon in this country to have such a large field, but it was an amazing experience in France and Italy to be in such big races and something that’s stayed with me.”
When asked how he manages to discipline himself to train and eat well even with such distractions as a birthday in January, he said:
“As a professional, I do what a professional does. Nowadays it’s not so hard because I know back to front what needs doing without any queries and I just do it. I don’t want to waste my time because we all train so hard and race to our limits I don’t want to be catching up on the early part of the season or even giving some form away because I was not disciplined enough.”
“I never want to waste anything I work for. My philosophy is summed up as this: A professional does what a professional should do in spite of whose birthday it is or who’s watching. If I live by that, I go to bed satisfied I know I did what I should have.”
And so when it comes to his routine, it goes a bit like this:
“I’m up and out of the door by 8:30-9:00am and go through my training exercises and intervals designed by Team Coach Steve Benton. Then it’s back home, wash, change, stretch, eat and then I go to work in the office for the afternoon.”
And that is the fascination of Yanto Barker. Not satisfied with a demandingly tough cycling regime as a pro cyclist, he also successfully manages a thriving cycling apparel business in the form of his brand Le Col.
“I have ridden over 300,000 miles racing and training and together with an analytical approach I’ve been designing some of the best products that can help people perform on a bike while looking smart. It’s been exciting and challenging but ultimately it’s successful.
“We’re supplying the team – One Pro Cycling and it’s also nice to be part of a team not just as a rider. Watching talented riders come through the ranks wearing my brand is a huge buzz for me and one I hope to be part of for years after I retire.”
He continued: “A well turned out kit is important, just as training is important and having a good bike and a motivated approach to racing. Success needs all these things not one or the other, you need to do them all. I take my job very seriously.” He said.
Yanto Barker is, in cycling terms, one of the more experienced pros and his results last season proved that he is very much poised to win more. His experience will be a valuable tool to share with his younger teammates at One Pro Cycling and he is keen to continue team and individual success into 2015.
“I have been analysing how to make my efforts count. In road racing to make it count you have to time your efforts to come at the end of a string of efforts to make the gaps happen. That takes time to learn. Now I know what I’m looking for it’s easier and I help explain this to my teammates but getting to learn that in the first place was a hard lesson.”
A hard lesson indeed and our records show that Yanto’s individual performance at the CiCLE Classic has earned him, two podium finishes in 3rd place, a 4th and a 5th. Bearing in mind the “race of fortune” element that goes along with the CiCLE Classic territory, it is a notable palmares.
And finally when we asked Yanto what his goals are for the 2015 season, he said:
“My goals are to perform at my full potential and be part of a winning team. It’s more important for me to be part of the greater success of the team than my individual success, so that it can be enjoyed by everyone.”
Post interview chat:
Out training on your bike, there’s always something happening what were the last three things to happen out on your bike, he said:
Yanto: “Interesting question. 1. I got rained on. 2. I didn’t get a KOM on Strava 3. Someone waved at me.
I know it’s a hard question but which cyclist do you most admire?
Yanto: “Maybe Cav he is very good.”
What’s happening in the world of Le Col?
Yanto: “Look out for the new HC range. It is something special. You can see it here on line www.lecol.net “
Thanks Yanto and enjoy The CiCLE Classic 2015.
Press Room – Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic
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