Wednesday, July 28, 2021
HomeInterviewsJohn Archibald - "I'd love to show up at the British Championships...

John Archibald – “I’d love to show up at the British Championships with a sub 4.20”

"I'm working towards 4.15, as this is the minimum of what it'll take for me to be competitive."


John Archibald has proved to us during season 2017 that he’s the fastest man in the country against the watch with fastest rides ever at 10 and 25 miles in Scotland.

But could he make the transition to pursuiting with all of it’s challenges, not least of which is the much higher cadences and mental aspect of the discipline?

With a series of quality four kilometre rides in Portugal and Switzerland, Archibald has proved that he can indeed adapt to the boards, bankings and all that time sitting about waiting…

John Archibald
John Archibald. Photo©supplied

Some nice rides in Portugal, John, at the Trofeu International De Anadia track meet. How did that ride come about?

“Scottish Cycling were keen for me to build experience in elite level track racing and the Anadia meet was a UCI Class 1 event – the perfect stepping stone from track league, I hear you say?

“I’ve never raced abroad, so it was a unique opportunity that I really enjoyed.

“Especially being part of a small squad of riders. The atmosphere is much more relaxed when there’s more than your own performance to obsess over.

“Plus, Kyle Gordon’s Portuguese hostel experiences provided plenty of entertainment.”

That’s a full UCI meet, so proper time keeping and sponges down in the time events?


“There was electronic timing, sponges and a UCI jig for bike checks – of sorts.”

How does the track compare to Glasgow?

“Glasgow is the only track I’ve ever ridden on, so it was always going to feel unusual to me.

“Based upon feeling I wouldn’t have said the conditions were fast in Anadia.

“The temperature was cold and the air density during the event was sub-optimal.

“This didn’t stop Charlie Tanfield (well under 4:20) doing his thing, but I have a feeling he had form to go faster if the conditions had presented themselves.”

Individual Pursuit – 4:21:749 and third; were you happy with that or were there an ‘what ifs?’

“It wasn’t particularly ambitious.

“I was happy with my placing, but pushing the 4.20 boundary was my main aim for the competition and I didn’t really threaten that with the pace I set out on.

“It was one of those days where the lap splits I was hitting were 0.1 – 0.2 secs slower than they felt.

“If ‘pinging’ is the aim; I wasn’t on that day.”

Tell us about the bike please – wheels, gearing, tyres and are you on ceramic bearings yet?

“Plenty to get excited about as I’ve recently upgraded to a Cervelo T4 frameset with a lot of decent kit on it.

“For example, I’ve slapped on a nice 58 tooth chainring, a crankset with an aerodynamic spider and even got myself a waxed chain.

“I was also fortunate to borrow wheels from Scottish Cycling for the event, as the double discs are a requirement in elite level pursuiting.

“I ran 104” for Portugal and this gave me a cadence of 116rpm.

“Whilst still experimenting with various gears, that’s what I’ve felt comfortable on lately.”

An excellent ride in the Scratch race too, beating Stroetinga, talk us through that one.

“The scratch race was interesting as I got away with murder, and loved it.

“I assumed every move would be marked and the bunch would roll in for a big sprint finish.

“However, my die hard tactic to take laps actually paid off.

“Whether I wasn’t on anyone’s radar, or just the luck of the draw, when I went for my second lap immediately after taking the 1st one, I caught them all napping and managed to sneak that crucial advantage.

“It helped that I had Andy Brown in the breakaway for the second lap – we had a mutual interest to take a lap, but he definitely pulled himself inside out to make it work.”

John Archibald
John rode strongly to take laps in the Scratch Race. Photo©supplied

And you rode the kilometre…

“I love the kilometre as an event; despite it not being my strength.

“My top end speed is a limiting factor in my pursuit, so I see it as a complementary test of IP form.

“Despite my time not being competitive, the nature of a one minute time trial has always appealed to me.

“The variety of approaches to gearing, pacing and aerodynamics also makes it particularly interesting.

“I can watch beefy sprinters roll themselves off the finish line demanding medical attention, or I can watch an endurance rider come from over a second behind with a lap remaining to take victory.

“It’s a brilliant event in my eyes.”

Then Switzerland and the Stadt Gretchen meeting, another UCI meet?

“Yes, why not?

“Another high pressure race scenario with a good level of competition.

“By this time I started to feel more relaxed about the racing too, so it helped having the two competitions back-to-back like this.”

What’s the track like compared to Glasgow?

“Again it had softer bends, but wasn’t noticeably faster or slower to me.

“The atmosphere of the event was much bigger than in Portugal though.

“There was a riders’ lounge, track centre bar and music on the go at all times.”

Individual pursuit – 4:20.075 – nice one. Third again – any lessons brought forward from Portugal?

“I didn’t leave anything in the locker this time and I was rewarded with a personal best.

“My first kilo is a limiting factor at the moment, as I have to start an IP brazenly close to my kilo PB to ensure I’m competitive.

“This means I tied up in the last kilo more than I would have liked, but there’s definitely things I’ve learned from the last 10 days that I’m really keen to experiment with moving forwards.”

The same bike set up?

“The bike setup was identical and my discipline to holding the black line was equally horrific.

“It’s a shame that I’ve not got this basic technical aspect nailed, but it does mean I have easy room for improvement … when it comes.”

John Archibald
Getting on the podium in your first international track competition shouts ‘class’. Photo©supplied

And third in the points – you’re getting the hang of this distance race game? 

“I’ve never suffered so much in a race before. It was like fighting to be in the winning road race move … for 120 straight laps.

“After watching the race footage back, I wasn’t smart with my energy expenditure, but I was really pleased that I proved to be competitive in the event.

“It’s been a nagging worry that I just wouldn’t be able to compete with the skill set I have.

“The bunch races are definitely exciting to take part in as there’s always something going on and there very rarely seems to be a lull.

“Having said all that, I was more than a little bit nervous beforehand.

“It was one of those races that you’re scared of until the gun goes … and then the adrenaline rush suddenly makes you see red.”

Some might say you’re going too deep, too often, with all these pursuit rides?

“I can see an argument for that.

“However, the Commonwealth Games is in April and I’ve only ridden half a dozen pursuits in my lifetime.

“This learning curve needs to be accelerated slightly and the timing of the events forces my hand.

“For example, I think the British Championships in January will be my last big test before April.

“So I can’t afford to be experimenting with new things at that stage in the game.

“These pursuits so far have been really valuable foundations.

“Now I can go away and build some form without panicking over equipment tests, pacing strategies and gearing. I have a firmer idea of where I’m at.”

John Archibald
John is fast-tracking his pursuit experience. Photo©supplied

What’s the plan between now and The Games?

“To build more strength for the pursuit.

“My rolling efforts (excluding a standing start) suggest I’m capable of faster times, so If I can marry that with a semi-decent start that doesn’t bury me, I could find a chunk of time.

“With the bunch races also becoming a possibility, it sounds like my track league days are set to continue in the build up.

“Taking down Matti Dobbins in the elimination race has become a secondary target.”

Where will that sub 4:20 come from? A better start? Higher gear ratio?

“Pushing a bigger gear is one answer and following a better line is another.

“An improved skinsuit won’t do me any harm and trialling some different nutrition strategies is also on my to do list.

“I’m working towards 4.15, as this is the minimum of what it’ll take for me to be competitive.

“I really hope I’ve got that type of performance in me; but I’m certain I’ve got more to give than 4.20.

“If I make sure no stone is left unturned in the next few weeks, I’d love to show up at the British Championships with a sub 4.20 to get the ball rolling.”

With thanks to John – VeloVeritas looks forward to the British Championships with relish…

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.

Related Articles

Ashton Lambie – World Individual Pursuit Record Breaker

Ashton Lambie recently slashed three seconds off Jack Bobridge’s Pursuit World Record at Aguascalientes on 31st August of this year in the Pan Am Championships with 4:07:251. His progression is an interesting one – from ‘ultra distance’ to gravel racing to grass track and now, the fastest track endurance rider in history. Here is his tale...

Shaun Wallace – Part One; Worlds Pursuiter in the 90’s

Shaun Wallace was a multiple British champion, twice Worlds silver medallist and three times a Commonwealth Games silver medallist as well as a world record holder on two occasions. High times we caught up with the man; he was at home in San Diego where he settled 22 years ago to ‘escape the winters.’

Tim James – Stacking up the top 10s in Italy

When we’re not keeping an eye on what’s happening in Northern Europe we have a peek at what’s happening down in la Bella Italia. A young man by the name of Tim James has been posting some solid results down there in the hard fought u23 classics as part of that enthusiastic and characterful man Flavio Zappi’s team.

John Archibald – Reflecting on his World Championship Pursuit

Here at VeloVeritas whilst we have the utmost respect for John Archibald and his performances we didn’t seek any pre-Worlds interviews from him, his sister Katie, Neah Evans or Mark Stewart. We felt that the ‘they just need to turn up and ride then bring home the rainbow jerseys’ vibe was putting them under pressure – of which they would experience more than enough in the cauldron of Pruszkow. We let the dust settle post-Worlds, gave John a call and found how it went...

Katie Archibald – individual pursuit was the highest of highs for me

VeloVeritas has already spoken to brother John about his men’s individual pursuit silver medal and now it’s time to hear what sister Katie has to say about her Games campaign where there was women’s individual pursuit gold in a Games record, points race silver behind Wales’ Elinor Barker and rides in the women’s scratch – where she finished fourth behind Amy Cure of Australia – and on the road in time trial and road race.

Christopher Jennings – From Rapha to VC La Pomme

Christopher Jennings is best remembered by Scottish readers as the winner of the 2012 Davie Bell Memorial race. We interviewed him just after his win, back in the summer and used his biog, from the Rapha-Condor website to do the introductions. A slight rider and strong climber Jennings can also perform on the pave, and will be a useful addition to the team’s stage race potential in 2012.

At Random

Organising the 46th Davie Bell Memorial Road Race

The best cyclists in Scotland will descend on South Ayrshire this Sunday, the 5th of June, as Ayr Roads Cycling Club/Harry Fairbairn BMW play host to round four of the Scottish Power Renewables SuP6R Six series at the 2011 David Bell Memorial Road Race. The event has attracted a full field for the first time in over two decades, with the riders lining up to complete the gruelling 120km marathon over the hilly roads around Straiton.

Justin Grace – Kiwi Coach Switches from Team France to Team GB

The last time we spoke to Justin Grace – the Kiwi who’s coaching skills had much to do with turning New Zealand into one of the world’s major cycling sprint nations – he’d just left his role at the Land of the Long White Cloud and signed up for – La Belle France. Perhaps it was no surprise to hear that Grace is now with British Cycling as sprint coach – with New Zealand and France among his toughest opposition.

Will They or Won’t They? (Preview: TDF 2012 Stage 10)

Will They or Won't They? Stage 10 has the classic look of a day when they break will get away and stay away all through to the finish. It is 194km long through high mountains, but the final 43km of the stage has 33km of descending in it. This is the sort of stage that Thor Hushovd won on last year, and will see the usual breakaway specialists licking their lips at the prospect of a shot at a stage win.

Auchencrow Thistle Hilly TT – “Up The Cleugh”

Aidan McIlroy (Auchencrow Thistle) backed up his great ride in the recent Gordon Arms time trial to win his own club's promotion, the hilly TT - "Up The Cleugh". Second was Gary Robson, and third Jon Kelly, visiting from the north of England.

The Clutha Vaults Tragedy

It's easy to sigh and shake your head when you read or hear that a drone has yet again 'zapped' the wrong target out there in the Middle East - and easy to carry on with your day. But when it's on your door step, in a place you love, it's altogether different. I heard on the radio, early on the Saturday morning that a helicopter had crashed on to a pub in Glasgow at 10:30 pm on Friday but didn't catch the name of the bar. 'That's horrible' I thought to myself and carried on editing our Yuriy Metlushenko interview.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011 used to be the 'revenge match' for Gent-Gent (Het Nieuwsblad); after poor showings in Saturday's race, QuickStep usually rode on Sunday with great panache to salvage the weekend-they did this with Nuyens in '06, Boonen in '07 & '09 and brilliantly with de Jongh in '08.