Triumphant Barker salutes Perf-ect race

Chris Opie, left, and Yanto Barker, second right, in a select front group in the Perfs Pedal. Picture: Allan Hutchings (150213-673)
Chris Opie, left, and Yanto Barker, second right, in a select front group in the Perfs Pedal. Picture: Allan Hutchings (150213-673)
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Yanto Barker has saluted Mick Waite and the Perfs Pedal team after toasting a maiden victory in the race.

The ONE Pro Cycling rider overcame team-mate Chris Opie on the final climb up Hundred Acres Road to etch his name onto the illustrious roll of honour in the contest’s 50th year.

He then revealed his affection for the season-opening race, organised by Waite, and called on more of the nation’s leading teams to support it in the future.

Barker said: ‘I’m really happy. I have never won it before.

‘I have got to say, I like this race – partly because it is one of the longest-standing and continuously-organised races.

‘It is on pretty much the same circuit, in the same area, by the same organiser every year.

‘More of the bigger teams should come to these kind of races.

‘They are put on by people who have put an awful lot of work in, year after year after year, to make sure they get their course.

‘They have to fight against all the challenges, such as opposition from local residents and whatever, to put them on and they deserve our support.’

Barker’s battle with Opie kept the crowd guessing right until the end of the 72km race, which featured four Portsdown Hill climbs.

They were followed over the line by the 2013 champion Marcin Bialoblocki, with George Harper in fourth.

However, each of the six-man ONE Pro Cycling team played their part in the debut triumph as they shattered the peloton with an impressive show of strength.

And that teamwork was a particular source of pride for Barker, who has taken on the role of road captain.

He said: ‘It was hard and fast but that was made by us.

‘That is how it has to happen. We are a big team and there is quite a lot of expectation on our shoulders. That is mostly from people who look at a team like ours and think we should just ride away from everyone but it doesn’t work like that.

‘You have to respect your opposition – there are a lot of people doing it well.

‘There were some good set-ups at the Perfs Pedal, with good support, coaching, equipment and everything.

‘So I’m just really pleased we have come away with a one-two-three-four.

‘It does get a little bit easier if you have a few team-mates to work with. And I know with these guys here, if they are working that hard, nothing is coming up to it.

‘You need to be a top pro to be able to close those kind of gaps.

‘It was a big and important opportunity to get everybody racing for the first time together.

‘You can’t take that for granted. And I am really happy we came away with a tick in the box.

‘We can all be very satisfied with the performance we gave.’

Barker saved special praise for Opie, who he has forged a good friendship with in recent seasons.

‘Five of the past six years we have been in the same team,’ he added.

‘It is a real pleasure to be in a group with Chris.

‘He is one of the most professional and dedicated bike riders and a team-mate I absolutely love.’

Prior to the race, Waite was presented with a commemorative award to mark 50 years of the Perfs Pedal.

He was delighted with the day – both in terms of the racing and the efforts of his team of organisers and marshals.

However, he will wait until later in the year before committing to number 51.

Waite, 68, said: ‘I was very pleased with how it went. The marshals went home dry for a change and there are not so many numbers to wash off!

‘I said I would get to 50 and I have done that now. I have got to look at it.

‘It’s a challenge but I will have a look at it again in the summer and we will see.

‘How anyone goes to work and organises a race like this, I don’t know.

‘In the 60s and 70s, you’d come home from work on a Saturday night, chuck a few flags and that in the back of the car or van and go out and do a race.

‘You can’t do that now. Everything has to be spot on, which I totally agree with.’

Click here for a gallery of pictures from the 50th Perfs Pedal.