Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Katie Archibald – “The Team Pursuit with GB is my Path to Rio”


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Katie Archibald
Katie Archibald. Photo©Bryn Lennon\GettyImagesEurope

Glasgow’s Katie Archibald has gone from ‘good Scottish rider’ to British championship medalist to European Champion and world team pursuit record holder – and now double World Cup medalist in a matter of weeks.

We thought it was high time to have a word.

Scratch race silver in the Manchester World Cup: what was the game plan before the race?

“I was pretty aware of the pursuit the next day so I went into the race planning on staying behind wheels and looking after my legs.

“That went out the window when I thought a break would go; I had to commit to it as my only chance for the podium.

“Four of us had a lap though so I still thought it could all go wrong in the bunch sprint!”

Then pursuit bronze: what was the plan – was the scratch still in your legs?

“I actually woke up (at 6am) feeling pretty good but I think it was mostly in my head because I’d been bashing out good lap splits in training that week whilst using Mavics.

“I was feeling ready to race for three days straight.”

Bronze in the British pursuit was the ride that really got you noticed – were you surprised to be on the podium?

“Yep, although it was a big target for me, whereas I think the GB girls would have been pretty much training through it – which might explain times a bit off their personal bests for them.”

That was the springboard to the European Team Pursuit Championships in Apeldoorn – did the call come out of the blue?

“Pretty much, I don’t think BC like to dangle opportunities in front of you and then snatch them away so it’s always left to the last minute when they’re certain on something that you find out about it.”

Did you get much opportunity to train with the other girls before the Euros – how were your changes and how did you find the tempo at world record pace?

“I went down to Manchester a week before the championships so we had four training sessions together and then a couple days in Apeldoorn for the Europeans.

“The immediate problems were things like my delivery at the end of a turn and learning to start as a group and fall into place; things that you don’t do in an individual pursuit.

“These were quite easily fixed with a bit of practice. The tempo is fast; it’s quite fun to rev so high on a big gear.

“When we were training together we found it was by my third turn that I struggled to keep the pace; but I was man four so this was usually with less than 500m to go depending on the turn lengths of others and just something we worked around.

“Obviously that’s what I’m training to improve; it’s no good having someone in your team that can’t go the full distance.”

Katie Archibald
Katie (r) and her all-star teammates in European Champion jerseys. Photo©Thomas van Bracht

What are the ‘Super Bikes’ like to ride?

“I actually rode a Pinarello and not one of the UKSI bikes.

“Maybe I’ll find out one day?”

How did you get into cycling?

“I’ve always needed to get from A to B, I suppose, but kids can’t drive cars.

“I don’t really have a ‘Sliding Doors moment’ where I saw a bike race and my life was change. I just gradually got more into racing.”

You rode the Highland Games circuit – how did you get into that and how many games did you ride?

“It was 2011 and just seemed like a cool thing to race; the events are handicapped and there’s prize money.

“I must have ridden about half of the games (not all have bike racing) so about 10 meetings?

“It’s hard to remember.”

You rode Meadowbank – but did the Glasgow velodrome opening change things for you?

“Glasgow is my home town and the track has a roof – It changed things hugely.

“I can cycle to the track now and Scottish Cycling have various sessions throughout the week where I can train at.

“There’s nothing holding Scotland back now, we just need to get the proper systems in place for talent development.”

Tell us about your team.

“‘Madison presents Boot Out Breast Cancer’ is a new team for 2014 set up by Barney and Sarah Storey (Sarah will be a rider as well, I haven’t asked if baby Storey is the official mascot).

“We’ll actually be riding the track nationals as well as the road series and should have a pretty strong team pursuit squad.

“Riders like Ciara Horne who rides team pursuit with Wales, Claire Galloway who used to be involved in the GB set up before the London games and the pursuiting legend herself Sarah Storey.

“I’m excited about the big British crits as well (Milk Race, Tour Series, RideLondon etc).”

Is there a chance of becoming part of the GB squad permanently and moving to Manchester?

“Details not confirmed…”

Do you have a coach – what’s his ethos?

“I’ve had many coaches and at the moment all of their training is merging into one programme that I’m writing myself.

“I quite like structure and a lot of fine detail so it’s a lot to ask of someone that’s just helping you as a hobby.”

Katie Archibald
Katie’s plan is well mapped out; Glasgow and Rio are the big milestones. Photo©Alex Livesey\GettyImages

The Commonwealth Games must be a big target, now?

“It is.

“I rode the National road race this year (in Glasgow) and got a taste for the crowd.

“I’m eager to show them what I can do on a track rather than on a hill.”

Have you achieved the qualifying time for the pursuit at the Games?

“Yep – the qualifying time is a 3.41.something and is based on previous World Championships and Commonwealth Games to guess (only guess!) that the time would place a rider in the top 8 for the commies in 2014.

“In March of this year I qualified with a 3.40.0 but have since then done a 3.37.0.”

It’s so specialist now – do you think you’ll go down the pursuit/team pursuit path or bunched races?

“Hopefully team pursuit with GB because that’s the path to Rio.”

You must have the potential to be a good omnium rider – is that something you’ve thought about?

“Not really; I’ve focused a lot on improving my bunch skills out of personal interest and enjoyment but I know that team pursuit it where the big opportunities are.”

What does the rest of the winter hold for you?

“I have no idea!

“At the moment I’m doing a mini road block so all pretty bland.”

What’s the ultimate goal?

“To be the fastest person in the world on a bike, duh.”

Katie's hair is a talking point. Photo©sportsaid
Katie’s hair is a talking point. Photo©sportsaid

And the hair colouring?

“I started dying my hair different colours (originally greeny/blue, and I dyed my right hand at the same time by accident) in my last year at school and people have been hating it ever since, I feel like I’ve committed now…”