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

"Racing against an Aussie in front of an Aussie crowd, this was a terrible thing to hear!"

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VeloVeritas has already spoken to brother John about his men’s individual pursuit silver medal and now it’s time to hear what Katie Archibald 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.

With every event now so specialist it was always likely that Katie and team mate Neah Evans would both be ‘up against it’ in the road events where girls have been riding road programmes rather than training for the short, sharp efforts of the velodrome.

Despite this Katie finished fourth in the time trial with Neah eighth; victory going to multiple Aussie time trial national champion and Chrono Champenois winner, Katrin Garfoot.

In the road race Neah was eighth and Katie was in 23rd spot with gold going to world stage road event regular top finisher, ‘home girl’ Chloe Hosking.

Thank you for speaking to us, Katie and congratulations on the medals – Games record in the pursuit qualifying; 3:24 did you ride to a lap schedule or just go out and ride on feel?

“Feel.

“I am the shame of my family; John did a perfectly paced qualifier, squeezing in the closing stages, I went out close to world record pace (3:20) and crawled home in the last 500m.

“If memory serves I did get the gold in my event though…”

Eight Cycling Medals for Scotland
Katie took Gold in the Individual Pursuit. Photo©BBC

That first ride is so important now, it decides everything – that’s a lot of pressure.

“I concur.”

The final looked TOUGH, Rebecca Wiasak is a seasoned competitor.

“The crowd started going wild with excitement in the middle kilometre.

“Racing against an Aussie in front of an Aussie crowd, this was a terrible thing to hear!”

Points race: was it always the plan that you and Neah would ride your own races?

“Yeah, we both wanted to win.

“We’ve raced together often and finished one/two so it seemed feasible – it wasn’t.”

It must have been frustrating when Elinor Barker took off to gain that lap in the points and everyone just sat and looked?

“I haven’t watched the race back yet (I’ve been putting it off) so I maybe shouldn’t comment from emotion ridden memory.”

Katie Archibald
Katie flies the Saltire. Photo©Sky Sports

The scratch race: any ‘what ifs’?

“It’s tricky to talk about race plans for these events because it’s a nuanced and blurred code around teamwork, but no it’s not one that’s keeping me up at night with ‘What If’s’ – I’ve quite purposefully put it to bed.

“The scratch race from worlds on the other hand, now that one tortures me.”

The speed of the track seemed to vary greatly between the afternoon and evening sessions – what did you think of the velodrome?

“Well, it was fast but it was also so comfy to ride.

“Having raced Apeldoorn the month previous, which was just crazy slippery, it felt so nice to feel relaxed moving around a track that just carried you.”

Time trial: it must be difficult to jump on a TT bike and look for a result after all that track training and competition?

“I would have loved to have been on that TT podium (I was fourth), and a small part of me thought I could do it.

“Until I pedalled off the starting ramp and realised I was in Sunday town bike mode.

“I probably gave all I was capable of but it just felt like such groggy ride which bummed me out.”

Katie Archibald
Katie is one of the best cyclists Scotland has ever produced. Photo©PA

Road race: as with the TT but even more so?

“I did all my prep for three kilometres, probably veering a touch too far in the volume I cut down when you consider I was also targeting the (25km) points race.

“So hey, I didn’t make the final cut in the road race – I came close though!

“Mainly because the way it was being attacked suited me, it really could have been a far more painful affair.”

Overall, were you happy with your Games?

“I’d say I see my whole games as that 3:24.119 individual pursuit; that was the highest of highs for me.

“The only two people to ever go faster (I think) are Sarah Hammer and Chloe Dygert (though Sarah Ulmer’s WR was 3:24.537).

“The men’s pursuit kind of stole the hype in terms of ‘history book’ rides since Charlie Tanfield’s been doing so many incredible individual pursuits, and that’s fair enough.”

With the benefit of hindsight is there anything that you would change about your preparation for The Games?

“We went to the beach one day and Mark Stewart tried to swim to the bottom of the ocean and perforated his ear drum.

“I’d go back and stop him doing that for sure.”

Katie Archibald
Katie and brother John, medallists both. Photo©PA

Do you get a wee rest now or is it; ‘straight back into it’?

“I am writing this in the passenger’s seat, driving to Skye!

“Got the bikes in the back but yes, having a holiday. First race is Tour de Yorkshire 3rd/4th May.”

The European Championships, this summer in Glasgow must be a big medium term goal for this year?

“It is indeed.

“Plus that event marks the start of the Olympic qualification period – best foot forward is always best.”

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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