Once again we’re proud to bring you an exclusive interview with Olympic Team Pursuit Champion, Katie Archibald. Together with her brother’s multiple successes which we’ve covered on the site recently we’ve considered renaming the site “VeloArchibald“!
Here, Katie tells us about her latest triumph in the World Omnium Championship – and puts us chauvinists at VeloVeritas securely in our box!
But we still respect and love the lady.
The new omnium format obviously suits you well, Katie?
“Ha, I guess it does.
“I think I’ve broken even compared to the old format where I was good at the pursuit, bad at the 500 metres TT and middling at the flying lap so it’s no loss or gain to me. “
It’s a long flight to Hong Kong – when did you get there and how was acclimatisation?
“We flew direct from Manchester, the dream.
“I’d been gradually trying to shift myself to Hong Kong time to make the jetlag easier (by travel day I was getting up at 3am) but a lot of my teammates seemed to be so exhausted from the travel that they slipped into Hong Kong quite well – you probably could have hung Elinor Barker out the hotel window those first few nights and she’d still have slept 12 hours.”
The scratch went well for you…
“It did but the result didn’t calm me down.
“Usually after the first race of an omnium the nerves dissipate a bit as you get into the swing of things (especially if you win). However, I could feel how hard I’d gone and it panicked me.
“Sure, I felt fast, but I was worried I’d just emptied the tank completely to do it. “
So did the ‘tempo race’ but can you remind us how it works and what your strategy was?
“After four empty laps at the start there are sprints every single lap where first over the line gets one point.
“You get 20 points for gaining a lap.
“My tactic was to sit close to the front early doors and attack over the top of the first major attack to go, thinking everyone would stall with the chase and I’d get a few sprints.
“However, I didn’t position myself well (I was way too far back) so as soon as the bunch swung up and I saw a chance I had to take it so I guess the first major attack came from me.
“From there I tried to both gain points myself and deny my closest omnium rivals (Amy Cure, Kirsten Wild, Sarah Hammer..) of points.
“Easier said than done, at the end of the day you just have to ride hard.”
Fifth in the elimination – were you happy enough with that placing?
“No, I was pretty gutted, that’s when I began to panic about the points race.
“I didn’t ride the elimination well and I ended up going out on legs rather than head which I’ve not done for a while. I just kept going round the outside and flapping about in the wind wasting energy, even playing cat and mouse with Hammer at one point for some stupid reason.
“Every race has to be calculated not just to save costs to win that race, but to think about the entire omnium.
“I didn’t succeed in that at all. “
You went into the points race level on points – what was the tactic?
“I had to get a points advantage on Cure early and that would allow me to react to her rather than end up on the back foot and find myself trying to shift her.
“I also think she knew if it went to sprints I had the edge so she had to go for the lap.
“In hindsight I really should have paid more credence to this and not let it get as close as it did to being over, but my legs hurt!
“Wild played it really well, she knew it was mine to lose and watched me chase like a dog until I was on my knees and she attacked.
“I just had to put everything into staying in contact through that middle part but I had no idea if there’d be even a second of respite that I could recharge.
“Well! I guess we know the result, I held on and managed to extend the points lead I had.”
That last sprint in the points was a cracker – you seemed to come from nowhere…
“There’s always something special for the last sprint!
“I haven’t seen the full footage but I can tell you I just kept looking side to side figuring out if I should force my way out forwards or go back and round?!
“I was panicking and I knew if I could just get out I’d light that final match – the way to do it was the long way in the end, round the outside and God, I thought my whole body was going to splinter into separate parts when I crossed that line.”
How was the track – and the organisation?
“I like the track and the organisation was fantastic.
“Anyone from Hong Kong I spoke to asked me the exact same thing though; it became funny.
“Each person seemed so proud of Hong Kong that they wanted to know what I thought of their city and was I impressed by it and what would I change and am I enjoying the food and eventually felt like all the Hong Kong locals wanted to know was; “Do you love us? How much do you love us?“.
“The answer is ‘very much,’ thanks for having us.”
You just missed out in the pursuit, qualifying fifth – any ‘what ifs’?
“Aw, man, I’m gutted about the pursuit!
“There’s no way I would have been close to Dygert (US rider Chloe Dygert won the final in 3:24, ed.) but I wanted to go sub 3.28, I was even having day dreams about a 26.
“But I was miles away. I was exhausted.
“Whenever I sat still my legs would throb with yesterday’s effort but I thought I could just overcome it somehow. I couldn’t.”
And no team pursuit – that would have been ‘too much?
“I’ve been away a lot and so not involved in the team training, it wouldn’t have made sense for me to jump in.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to it next season though.”
You’ll be glad you missed the madison – it looked mad!
“I’ll be honest, I’ve taken mild offence at this question.
“There’s been a rhetoric ever since I’ve been involved in track cycling that women shouldn’t ride madison because it’s carnage and so often I’ve heard this come from my male teammates.
“Of course we can’t ride a madison like Cav and Wiggins, you never give us any races to ride!
“And it’s conversation like this that perpetuate that opinion.
“I’m gutted I didn’t get to ride the first ever women’s world championship madison.
“From the stands I watched my teammates fight for a fantastic silver medal and I feel really proud of them and excited for where the event will go in the future now that people are giving us the opportunity to ride it.”
What about the dragon hat, is it a good fit?
“Brilliant fit. I wanted to wear it on our night out but was persuade to go with jeans and T-shirt instead.”
Did you get a chance to celebrate your win?
“Yes, though I’ll confess we didn’t get very far out into Hong Kong – there was a bar two streets away from the hotel…”
You’ve been hard at it all winter and spring – you must be due a break?
“August I think I’ll have a break. Although yesterday I rode for an hour and a half and had a tub of Ben and Jerry’s for lunch so I guess I’m having a mini break at the moment.”
What’s the next goal?
“Next weekend I go to Luxembourg to race Elsy Jacobs (stage race held to honour that nation’s most famous female rider, world champion and world hour record holder, ed.) then I have a few Tour Series rounds (including Motherwell), and I’m racing Durango (one day) and Bira (five days) on the bounce out in Spain…
With thanks again to Katie and wishing her ‘all the best’ for season 2017.