Golden Barker hails embattled British team

Talek HARRIS
Britain's Elinor Barker holds the Union Jack after winning the points race final during the Track Cycling World Championships in Hong Kong, on April 16, 2017

Elinor Barker praised the support she had received from her embattled British team after she won a morale-boosting gold medal at the Track Cycling World Championships on Sunday.

Barker's victory in the points race was among the highlights on the final day as France celebrated two wins and Australia finished top of the medals table.

Britain's second gold in Hong Kong came as they await an independent review into allegations of sexism and bullying levelled at team leadership last year.

But Barker, an Olympic gold-medallist and two-time world champion in the team pursuit, said she couldn't have had better support in her successful bid for a maiden individual rainbow jersey.

"I've been unbelievably supported in order to try to win this," she said at the Hong Kong Velodrome, after securing a thrilling win over American great Sarah Hammer.

"After the Olympics I had a meeting with about four of the coaches and staff members and said 'I have a new goal, I want to win the points race at the worlds'."

"Instantly they were like 'Yeah, we think you can do it'. They gave me the space and the focus I needed."

A leaked draft of the review reportedly described a "culture of fear and bullying" at British Cycling but Barker, 22, said many people had a false perception of the team.

"I've been going on Twitter and been going 'Oh, really? Is that the case?' Because I think if I didn't have Twitter I wouldn't know about it," she said.

Barker looked like she would have to settle for her third silver medal in Hong Kong before she pipped Hammer, an eight-time world champion, with a strong finish.

The Briton crucially picked up 20 points for gaining a lap with just four of the 100 laps to go, winning the first individual world title of her career.

- 'Today was so incredible' -

France also enjoyed a late rally as they won their second and third gold medals through Francois Pervis in the time trial, and Morgan Kneisky and Benjamin Thomas in the madison.

Pervis won the 1km time trial by 0.334sec from compatriot Quentin Lafargue and Czech rider Tomas Babek, who shared silver after a rare dead heat.

Thomas, who brilliantly won the four-event omnium on the last lap of the last race on Saturday, also crossed the line on the 200-lap madison to clinch his second gold in two days.

"It's not easy to stand on my legs," an exhausted Kneisky said, adding: "Everyone was motivated to give everything at the end of the week.

"Today was so incredible for us -- now we'll be focused for the future."

But the championships didn't end happily for Hong Kong's former Olympic bronze-medallist Sarah Lee, who bombed out of the women's keirin in spectacular style.

Lee finished fifth in her second-round heat but not before, in her haste to place among the leaders, she appeared to send South Korea's Lee Hye-Jin crashing on the last lap.

German great Kristina Vogel eventually took gold in the keirin, picking up her ninth world title and her second in Hong Kong after the women's sprint.

Australia were the most successful country, winning three gold medals alongside Russia and France but collecting five silvers and three bronzes for 11 podium places overall.