How Kraftwerk helped city teen to British cycling glory

Edinburgh cyclist Matthias Barnet, and below, on the podium
Edinburgh cyclist Matthias Barnet, and below, on the podium
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When Murrayfield’s Matthias Barnet accompanied his dad Brian, to a concert given by German electronic band Kraftwerk five years ago, little did either of them realise it was the start of a journey that would lead to a British Youth Cycling Championship triumph.

Not only was Matthias, then 11-years-old, struck by the music, but also the fact that in the Manchester Velodrome venue, the GB pursuit team, who had won a gold medal at Beijing’s Olympics, took to the track as a visual accompaniment.

“I realised there and then I wanted to be a cyclist and pestered my parents for a bike,” recalled Matthias as he continued to savour winning the British Under-16 Youth road race title at Redbridge last weekend.

It is the second successive year the trophy, previously won by former world champion and BBC Sports Personality of the Year Mark Cavendish as well as current Tour de France competitor Geraint Thomas, had returned to the Lothians. In 2013, Musselburgh’s Ben Forsyth took the honours over a course in Blackpool.

Brian Barnet, a local tennis coach, takes up his son’s story: “It turned out to be an expensive concert but, seriously, it was great to see Matthias find a sport for himself having played decent enough tennis at one stage to play a junior inter-county event.

“We made him wait from the July until Christimas for his bike, though. Just to be sure!

“Maybe it was meant to happen for him because in another coincidence, Matthias’ bedroom window looks out across to the family home of Sir Chris Hoy!”

Since Matthias’ bike arrived, he has scarcely looked back with Sir Chris instrumental in aiding his development with an invite to a “Future Stars” event during the Glasgow Revolution series last December.

“The chance to compete at that event was a big help as has been coaching from fellow rider John McCallum and Professor Richard Davidson, who lives in Dunfermline.”

While Hoy’s success has come on the track, Craigmount High pupil Matthias, a member of the Martin Currie Edinburgh Road Club who regularly muster at the Commonwealth Pool and set off on the roads, is looking outdoors for success as he pursues a career with a professional team.

“The circuit at Redbridge contained the tough Hog Hill. That suited Matthias perfectly as he has a particular strength as a climber.

“There were 31 laps of the mile and a half circuit and that suited him with Hog Hill having to be overcome so often.”

What also helped was an opportunity to be inspired by the Tour de France just before the Grand Depart in Yorkshire.

“I was there competing in Otley and Ilkey just before the Tour and the atmosphere was tremendous” said Matthias.

Brian added: “It is very, very unusual for Matthias to be bullish about his chances but he did remark to me that he was feeling really good about the British Championship through being in Yorkshire where he was able to walk around meeting top riders including (current champion) Chris Froome.”

In winning the British title, Matthias went one better than finishing runner-up by a margin of two seconds in the Youth Tour of Scotland held over four days earlier this year.

His conqueror that day finished sixth in Redbridge so there was an element of revenge and now Matthias has set sights on further successes including when he debuts in Scotland’s youth track team for the Sainsbury Games in late August.

There is no let up on the hectic schedule before that either with an event planned at Welwyn this weekend followed by a fortnight in Germany before returning to contest a race in Errigal, Ireland.

“It’s all Matthias wants to do – just get on his bike and cycle,” says proud dad, Brian, who has worked with some of the top tennis juniors including Millie Stretton.