Founded in 2010 Team Raleigh’s primary sponsor is Raleigh who supply the team’s bicycles. The team is also sponsored by a roster of additional sponsors including GAC, Skoda and iPro. The team rides senior professional events in the United Kingdom and Europe, other than the Grand Tours and UCI Pro Tour races. For the 2011 season they expanded the team to 12 riders and in 2013 they expanded again to 14 riders. In December 2013 it was announced that Bernard Hinault would work with the team in a “patron” role for the 2014 season.
The continental team consists of a mix of riders from either Britain or France and Raleigh-GAC believe they are capable of delivering at the very top level of Pro-Cycling, recently demonstrated by Yanto Barkers dominance of the Elite Men’s Road Series and claiming the Team prize in the same series. This win meant the team had taken three of the overall honours in British Cycling’s two race series with Frenchman Alexandre Blain wrapping up the Elite Criterium Series in July.
This success continued into Day 1 of the 2014 Tour of Britain with a strong showing from Raleigh-GAC in the team standings and riders well placed in the General Classification.
Our Editor (Scot Whitlock) managed to interview Yanto Barker of Team Raleigh in the midst of the Tour of Britain having just completed stage. This interview took place back in 2014 but does give a good insight into the life of a pro-cyclist. Yanto is now currently a member of ONE Pro Cycling.
What does your daily fitness routines consist of?
It mainly consists of training (cycling) in the morning. Then a stretching and core stability session straight after.
What do you enjoy doing in your ‘down time’?
I work, I run two companies making sports clothing, one is Le Col a premium cycling clothing brand here in the UK, the other is a factory that makes all types of active wear from Ski, swim, cycling, running, outdoor wear. Pretty much everything. It keeps me busy but I like it, racing gives me an exercise routine and business is much more strategy and calculating, they balance out well. I think of myself as an entrepreneur who facilitates growth product development and finances for everything to do what it needs to be successful. After this I don’t have much down time and I don’t like holidays either.
What does your daily food intake consist of? And are there occasional when you yearn for some fast food?
I am a man of routine, I enjoy food but the more hungry you are the better everything tastes so I’m pretty happy without so much fast good. However as we burn so many calories we can have a bit every now and again without it being too bad for performance.
Do you have any vices?
I have a sweet tooth! But when I’m really trying to make a difference I replace some sugar with honey and that works, but I do like a bit of chocolate in the evenings.
Are you looking forward to the Tour of Britain, what are you hoping for?
Yes very much so, I’m hoping for a good stage result and a couple of days in the break. Otherwise to stay out of trouble as well and avoid crashes.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I don’t think I will race for many more years, I’ve been a full time cyclist (basically full time) since I was 16 so I look forward to returning buying a big house in the country and starting a family. Also to grow my business to enable me to come back and sponsor a team in the future. I think that would be great!
Is life as a pro-cyclist what you imagined and is it as good as the public think?
That’s a good question, yes in some ways its every bit as good as I imagined in others not so much. You never fully appreciate just how much you physically hurt yourself racing and training until you do it properly. But the respect and satisfaction you get from performing well and the adulation from fans and supporters is something I don’t take for granted and am always very grateful. I work hard and it’s great when it’s recognised.
What are the realistic ambitions for Team Raleigh?
A top 5 position on a stage and top 10 position on GC. That would be excellent!
What were your emotions when you won the British Cycling Elite Mens Road Series recently?
Mostly relief. I was leading by a good few points going into the last few rounds so it was all to lose really. I’m very diligent in my preparation so believed I could win overall but I don’t let myself relax until I’ve crossed the line on the final round and its done. So I was still quite serious and focused until Ipswich which was the last round.
Who was your main inspiration growing up?
Probably Miguel Indurain and Michele Bartoli, I raced in the Tour of Britain with Bartoli in 2005 but didn’t have the get the chance to say it was in part thanks to him I took up cycling and was there at that race.
Are you superstitious?
I used to be but am less now. I’m an obsessive calculator of statistics, both measured and perceived. I keep a mental log of just about everything, the risk involved and the probability. I also analyse my training and racing data with the help of my coach to make sure I’m doing everything scientifically as well as possible. I also use this approach in my business when building plans and forecasts you have to be able to predict the future to a certain extent because you are investing into the probability of a certain outcome. What that outcome is needs to have been predicted accurately using measures and data you can draw together. When you focus on this the desire to be superstitious becomes less and less. I prefer measurable data then made up stuff you can’t measure and might not even be real which is basically superstition.
How easy is it to mix Cycling and business?
Ha ha… That depends who you are and how your business works. For me it works well. I make a distinction between having a job and having a business. Having a job means you have to do stuff, having a business, or running a business means you have to make sure stuff gets done, but it doesn’t always have to be me that does it. Plus if my business only works because I’m there to do the work there is a problem with my business model. I’ve always worked like this and not really ever had a job so I don’t really know any different. My business is a way for me to prove my theory and we have been growing every year since the start so I’m going to keep going. It does mean you have to think creatively and not accept commonly acknowledged limits of what is possible. You have to push, strive for it to be better and never be satisfied with how it is because it can always be improved. I think you need a certain level of intensity to keep doing that year after year.