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John Archibald – Winning and Dominating the Tour of the North and Meldons Time Trial

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A 19 minute two-up ‘10’ in February, a solo 19 minute ‘10’ in March, Gifford, The Gordon Arms, The Tour of the North and now The Tour of the Meldons incorporating the Scottish National ‘Olympic’ Time Trial Title – that John Archibald (ProVision) laddie is on fire; better have a word…

Three minutes over Chris Smart – that was an impressive winning margin on Sunday sir over the Meldons!

“Thanks very much.

“I’ve really enjoyed doing these rolling time trials lately, so it was even better that I had such a great result on the day.”

John Archibald
With a couple of miles to go, John knew he was on a great ride. Photo©Martin Williamson

Had you ridden the course previously – what did you think of it?

“I’d checked out the course before with a teammate, but in the heat of a race it always seems different.

“The fact that it’s not a “point and shoot hour of power” makes it more interesting for me.

“There were hills, crosswinds, descents and technical bends. Throw in some rough road surfaces and you find yourself really having to concentrate.

“Luckily the sunny conditions on the day meant that you could rip into the bends with more confidence; although you can never afford to lose control on these narrow country roads.

“In short – I liked it!”

Can we ask about your power on the day, please?

“My average was 375w, but I didn’t arrive there in style.

“Having changed my bike position since the last race I did, my initial target turned out to be too ambitious.

“This meant I was in the fun scenario of watching my power drop from minute 10 to minute 40, and wheezing over my handlebars in self-pity.

“The aero benefits of the position must have paid off, but it wasn’t a cleverly paced ride.”

John Archibald
About ten minutes into the race, the riders have to climb the twisty, unclassified road towards Middle Burn. Photo©Martin Williamson

Tell us about your training over the winter.

“I set a few goals over the winter and actually really enjoyed the progression.

“I’m not shy of doing a turbo session or two, but this time I gave it real focus.

“I also went along to the winter Renfrew Bunch for the fun stuff – a five hour day that includes 40 minutes of chain gang. Guys like Gregg O’Malley, Scott Newman and Alan McBride loved seeing me every Saturday… and my dad (Ian) loves turning himself inside-out on the road to Barrhead and praying he can hold on.”

Do you have a coach? what’s the ethos?

“My ethos is always very simplistic, and always revolves around progression.

“If I’m holding the same numbers, for the same duration, in the same position then I won’t get any faster.

“So if I’m not able to improve any of those variables, then the stimulus needs to change. That sounds vague, but I don’t find it helpful to over-complicate things.

“The only thing I have changed this year is the number of races I’m doing; fitting in more than last season, I’m hoping that the fitness gains you get from them won’t collapse me before the year is over.”

A ’19’ for a ’10’ in March – that’s some ride, so early.

“I didn’t realise I was in that kind of form at the time, so it came as a great surprise.

“Four of our Pro Vision team had just come back from a week’s holiday in Gran Canaria so were raring to go.

“David Griffiths also went a low ‘20’ on the day, so you can assume – correctly – that we weren’t sipping beers by the beach all week.”

John Archibald
John in the race leader’s yellow jersey won three of the four stages at the Tour of the North. Photo©David McVeigh/The Belgian Project

Talk us through your Tour of the North win.

“It couldn’t have gone better really; an early breakaway on the first day gave me a three minute advantage on the rest of the field.

“That was consolidated by Richard McDonald flying onto the podium after the Stage Two time trial.

“From there, all we had to do was protect it.

“So another stage win and the overall team prize really put our stamp on the race.

“Some of the most rewarding racing turned out to be the final stage, where a Dooley’s Cycles and Pro Vision alliance meant that we spearheaded the race with Scottish talent.”

That early rapid ’10’, Gifford, The Gordon Arms TT, the Tour of the North, and the Meldons… have we missed anything? That’s quite some run of form, will you be taking a wee break soon?

“Davie Griffiths would be keen to remind you of the Icebreaker 2-up TT – if a 19 minute TT in March doesn’t perk your ears, then how about mid-February?

“In seriousness though, I’m looking to carry as much form as I can into the Isle of Man TT champs in June. I ramped things down slightly after Tour of the North, but I’m hoping to put in another big build period before that race.”

John Archibald
John and the team at the Musselburgh TTT. Photo©Christine Ferguson

Tell us about the Pro Vision set up…

“It’s David Lang’s brainchild, supported by ex-pro Steve Joughin from Pro Vision Clothing.

“There’s a number of core riders that range from Ben McMullen tearing up the junior MTB and cyclocross scene, to veterans such as Jason Roberts who claimed an awesome seventh place at the Senior Scottish Road Race last year.

“We’re good friends that meet up for training regularly and enjoy racing together, so it has the friendly club atmosphere, but our training rides don’t take any prisoners. Just ask David Lang.”

New wheels?

“I still have the same TT bike, but now have my own wheelset, a Corima tri spoke and disc that I’m very happy with.”

Any pursuit ambitions – you obviously have the speed for it.

“People will think I’m lying when they hear this from me yet again, but I am going to be down the Glasgow velodrome shortly.

“The pursuit is something I am desperate to try, and I’m finally getting my act into gear.

“After June, I’m hoping to pay it proper attention and see where I can take it.”

Road or time trials – where do your ambitions point you?

“I love the road racing because every route, tactical scenario and competitor is different; however it’s time trialling where my talents lie. I’m going to keep including them both until I’m forced into a direction.

“Hopefully that day doesn’t come, but time trialling is where I feel more confident.”

John Archibald
John is very focused and self-aware. Photo©Martin Williamson

And you must have TT records in mind?

“Beating my personal bests and chasing championships holds far more attraction to me.

“With equipment and conditions being so variable across the years (except in the velodrome), the times become less relevant.

“All you can do is race who turns up on the day – and that appeals to me far more than records.”

Does the Continental scene hold any appeal for you?

“It does, although the track is going to be my first port of call.

“Obviously if I find an open door somewhere, I’ll definitely walk through it.”

VeloVeritas will be catching up with John again at the National ‘10’ at Freuchie on May 7th, see you there?

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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