Thursday, August 5, 2021
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Katie Archibald – Scotland’s Newest World Champion!


It’s not along since we interviewed Katie Archibald – as a member of the GB team which took the world record for the ladies four kilometre team pursuit at the World Cup in Mexico at the end of last year.

We make no apology for speaking to her again – but this time we speak to her as world champion in the discipline.

GB qualified fastest in Cali but in the final the British quartet narrowly avoided disaster to run out winners despite a very ragged last lap.

Just one of the things we asked the lady from Milngavie about…

Katie Archibald
Katie Archibald (L) with her GB teammates on top of the world. Photo©

Two seconds margin on the Canadians in qualifying down to one second in the final – did the Canadians surprise you?

“The Canadians are strong and we know they’re strong.

“Not to sound cheeky but the reason it was tight in the final was because of our ‘incident ‘ at the end; our man three finished over half a second behind man one because of all the ducking and diving about the track.

“The Canadians were up on us for more than the first half but it crumbled for them when they lost a rider after having set out on a pace they couldn’t sustain.

“We train with five riders (Laura, Jo, Elinor, Dani and myself) who can all keep pace with our schedule right to the end.”

4:23 – well off the 4:16 world record – seven seconds, a big difference.

“There was an even bigger margin between the winning time and the world record in the men’s event; the track had a bloody headwind in the back straight, what do you expect?”

The track was tricky I believe – with wind and even rain?

“The rain thankfully didn’t put stop to any play during the actual competition, although it did affect a couple training sessions.

“We could moan about it but it wouldn’t change things, the organisers were pretty slick and efficient when it came to getting the track dry again.”

Katie Archibald
The open sides on the track’s straights let the wind in. Katie’s ridden at Meadowbank velodrome in Edinburgh so is used to that! Photo©cyclingweekly

How did you deal with the altitude?

“My biggest problem with altitude in Mexico (round two of World Cup, 1800 metres altitude) was pace judgement because it was hard to feel the effort when the air you’re running through is so thin; that wasn’t an issue in Cali because the wind put you right in your place.

“The altitude could maybe explain why so many teams died off in their last kilo of the team pursuit, but because it’s only at 800 metres altitude I’d say that was more likely down to teams going out too hard by basing their scheduling on times they performed on home tracks and not on Cali specifically.”

The Canadians went out fast in the final, did that unsettle you?

“Yep, pooped my pants.”

Talk us through the drama in the finale, please.

“With 300 metres-ish to go, Laura finishes a big turn including a late change with the intention of slingshotting Elinor into the final lap.

“Unfortunately Elinor’s legs had tied up (which is unusual for El who had been pulling really big, really strong turns in training and also the qualifier) and she lost the wheel and starts to drift up the track.

“I’m behind her and hear the bell so ride through underneath her with Jo on my wheel. When Elinor drifts up she blocks off Laura, who begins to back pedal to try and get underneath again.

“However when Elinor looks down she she’s that there’s no man three and so tries to get back on, this time blocking Laura off from above.

“A shout from Laura and El swings back up, unfortunately leaving Laura to power through the last lap essentially solo after just coming off the front.

“Not ideal, but it’s happened, and we know that this is a freak occurrence for Elinor so no one is bummed.”

Katie Archibald
Not quite what the coaches had in mind for the last lap formation. Image©uci

You all looked shattered at the end – no victory celebrations.

“It was my first world champs; no one told me the drill!

“Elinor was pretty upset so when she went off the track I just followed…”

Did you sleep with your rainbow jersey on?

“No but I do now sleep with the cuddly raccoon they gave us.”

Was there a celebration later in the day?

“We all had a pretty big celebration with the entire GB team on the last night.

“I’m not sharing the details…”

Tell us about your training leading up to the Worlds.

“We train as a squad of five in Manchester (Myself, Joanna Rowsell, Elinor Barker, Dani King and Laura Trott) so the efforts always include four people and we can get away with another person being ill/injured or maybe doing solo work or running off the back of the team. It works pretty well.”

No ‘super bike’ for you?

“Nope. I’m an Academy squad athlete so I don’t have the same privileges as the Podium squad girls.

“We still do all the same training, I’m just on a different bike.”

Any of the famous ‘marginal gains’ you can tell us about?

“We all made sure our fake tan was put in at least two days in advance so that it was fully evaporated and we weren’t carrying any extra weight.”

Is there a team pursuit for the ladies in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games?

“Sadly not, neither is there a women’s team sprint.

“Though there’s is a men’s event for both, draw from that whatever you like.”

The individual pursuit at the Games must be your big goal, now?

“Yeah, though I’m aware it’s going to be pretty tough.

“If you look at the medal winners for individual and team pursuits at a world level it’s mainly Commonwealth nations.

“I’m also eager to keep improving my points racing and look for a medal there.”

Katie Archibald
Katie has reached the top of her sport in a remarkably short time. Photo©getty

What’s the timeline to Glasgow?

“My last track event of the season will be the London round of the Revolution next weekend and then I’m going to be riding on the road for Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International.

“Scottish Cycling are taking a squad over to Europe for some races on the road as well which will be my first crack as racing across the channel on a bike with gears, a scary prospect!

“I’m not yet sure whether the bulk of my track prep for the Commies will be done here in Manchester or back in Glasgow with my team mates.

“I better start planning, eh?!”

We just hope the Canadians aren’t reading this – if they pick up on that fake tan marginal gain it could be decisive.

With thanks and congratulations to Katie.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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