Two days before Elinor Barker takes aim at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, she found reason for an early celebration. Her Uno-X Pro Cycling confirmed a four-year contract extension, which will keep the British rider in the yellow-and-red colours of the top-tier team through 2027.
“Really happy to have extended my contract through until 2027, thanks for putting your faith in me Uno-X,” Barker posted to her Instagram feed Friday.
The British track star and Olympic gold medalist signed her original contract with the Women’s WorldTour team for road racing in 2022-2023. But her intentions to bring a mighty sprint to the Norwegian-based squad hit a delay, as she became pregnant with her first child, son Nico, in the summer of 2021 and missed 2022 on maternity leave.
Barker returned to racing in Spain in February this year, finishing 15th at Vuelta CV Feminas. Then she switched gears back to the track and teamed with Kate Archbald to win the women’s Madison at the UEC Track Elite European Championships, giving her a second gold medal with the women’s Team Pursuit.
After completing Volta Comunitat Valenciana, Barker made noise in her first WorldTour race after maternity leave, riding to seventh at Gent-Wevelgem by surviving the harsh weather and crashes.
“It’s really nice to be back,” a shivering Barker told Cyclingnews after a rain-soaked edition of the prestigious Spring Classic. “I’m not sure where I came, to be honest, but that was definitely my best result in a WorldTour race.”
Leading into Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Barker finished 16th at La Flèche Wallonne, posting the best time for Uno-X riders in a time 34 seconds behind winner Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx).
“Left my legs on the Mur,” she said on social. “Looking forward to one last hit out too end the classics season at Liège on Sunday.”
Gent-Wevelgem helped her build confidence with performance, which just adds to the positive environment she had felt at Uno-X.
“The team has been so unbelievably supportive,” she added, referring to way Uno-X have honoured her contract above and beyond UCI requirements.
“This would look so different if they weren’t as open minded, I think. They do things a lot differently to how other teams and other employers do things. It also gives me a lot of motivation. So far it’s working really well.”
In January Barker’s teammate Joscelin Lowden announced her pregnancy and a maternity leave for 2023. Uno-X Pro Cycling management said it would not replace her on the roster, racing with 15 riders, and expected too offer her a contract renewal for the next season. The team also said they would continue to pay her full salary, even though UCI rules allow WorldTour teams to reduce payment after three months of maternity leave to 50% of salary for the next five months.
General Manager and CEO of Uno-X Jens Haugland told Cyclingnews that the team would continue to pay 100% of Lowden’s salary in 2023 with a contract renewal offer in place for 2024.
“Currently, we do not plan to replace her – but things can always change. Jos will receive 100% of her contract payment this year, and her contract will automatically be lengthened with one year extra [if she continues to race],” Haugland said.