Olympic medallists Elinor Barker and Katy Marchant will return to international competition for the first time since becoming mothers at next week’s European Track Championships in Grenchen, Switzerland as Olympic qualifying gets under way.
The pair have been named in a 21-strong Great Britain squad that also includes emerging road star Fred Wright, 23, who is heading back to the track for his first major competition in the velodrome since 2019.
Rio gold medallist Barker, 28, who was pregnant with her son Nico at the time she helped Britain to team pursuit silver at the Tokyo Games, has been named in a women’s endurance squad that also includes Katie Archibald, Josie Knight, Neah Evans, Anna Morris and Ella Barnwell.
Rio bronze medallist Marchant, 30, who gave birth to son Arthur in June last year, is back in the sprint squad alongside Emma Finucane – fresh from a sweep of all four national sprint titles last weekend – Lauren Bell and Sophie Capewell.
Wright, who became something of a star with a string of plucky near misses in Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana stages last year, is in the men’s endurance squad for a major event for the first time since picking up Madison bronze alongside Mark Stewart at the Hong Kong World Cup in December 2019.
Dan Bigham, Ethan Vernon and Ollie Wood, three-quarters of the team that took the team pursuit world title in October, are also joined by the returning Charlie Tanfield and Will Perrett, riding his first major event as a full-time member of the squad.
Ethan Hayter has been forced to withdraw after a crash at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race over the weekend, with Will Tidball stepping in.
“It’s great to see some riders back on the track after illness or injury and in the case of Elinor Barker and Katy Marchant, this is the first opportunity to see them competing on the international stage since giving birth, so it’s a pleasure to welcome them back,” said performance director Stephen Park.
“This event marks the start of the Olympic qualification period. We ended 2022 with a number of the riders heading out to Grenchen winning world championship medals, so I hope those impressive results give them confidence as we start the 2023 track season and start our campaign to Paris 2024.”