Wednesday, October 27, 2021
HomeInterviewsJohn Archibald - Breaking Course Records with Big Margins

John Archibald – Breaking Course Records with Big Margins

"On and up and down course like The Meldons it’s hard to have an idea of what watts you should be putting out in the race."


Two course records obliterated within days of each other over the Easter weekend? It could only be that man John Archibald (Ribble Pro Cycling). It’s good to see he’s put a disappointing Worlds pursuit behind him – and the margins he’s breaking course records by takes VeloVeritas back to those ‘Obree Days’ when every weekend produced another ‘wow!

We had a word…

John Archibald
John Archibald in action at the Tour of the Meldons. Photo©Martin Williamson

The Meldons and 2:26 off your own 2017 course record with a 50:42, a nice result, congratulations John Archibald.

“Thanks, I always tend to go out too hard on that course, the climb is grippy then there was a head wind down the valley so it was a hard day for a time trial, it was sunny but I was getting blown around with that deep section front wheel.”

How do you judge pace on a day like that?

“It’s difficult; on a dual carriageway you can think that it’s so many miles into the head wind then it’ll be a tail wind back for that number of miles so you can gauge it but on and up and down course like The Meldons it’s hard to have an idea of what watts you should be putting out at that point in the race.”

And you broke the Buxton Mountain Time Trial course record too – by five minutes.

“Yes, I enjoyed that event, I judged my pace much better in that one; it’s three laps of an 11 mile circuit and I was doing 60 kph on the descent.

“I think it was Stuart Dangerfield had the record with a 1:22 and I did 1:17:09 – but someone said Matt Bottrill may have gone faster?”

[We checked, Stuart Dangerfield did have the record with 1:22:13 set in 2003, Matt Bottrill did 1:22:17 in 2017, ed.]

John Archibald
John’s aero tuck. Photo©Martin Williamson

That’s a radical position you’re riding; your forehead is so close to your hands.

“Where Martin photographed me on the climb, yes – because the speed is lower but on faster sections I have to lift my head a bit so I can see further ahead.”

How does your time trial position compare to your track position – and what length cranks do you ride?

“The stack height is a wee bit higher on the road bike; I ride 165 mil. cranks on road and track – and that’s not to do with science, it’s just because I feel most comfortable on them.”

You were on a double chainring set up, do you still run the 58 big ring?

“I was running 42/56 and everything worked fine, gears-wise – Kyle Gordon uses a single ring set up but I don’t think it’s optimal because you have to use a massive sprocket at the rear to get a low enough ratio for the stiff climbs.”

What’s next up?

“I have the Tour of Yorkshire at the beginning of May – I expect that to be an eye opener and after that my focus will be on the British Cycling National Time Trial Championship.

“Before that I have three rounds of the Tour Series criteriums to ride; Motherwell, Aberdeen and Durham – I’ve never ridden crits before but they should suit me with their over/just under threshold nature – I look at how well Katie has adapted to them and Harry Tanfield goes well in them too…

“But they’re different for sure, compared to a five hour road race but the Tour Series is also important for Tour of Britain qualification.”

How are you getting on with life in the ‘Derbados’ team house with Dan, Johnny and the Huub/Ribble guys?

“Good, yes.

“There are plusses and minuses, I’ve experienced university halls of residence so it’s no problem – a bit like being on a permanent training camp.

“You never get lonely and they’re all pretty characterful guys.”

John Archibald
John’s TT and Pursuit positions are pretty similar. Photo©Getty Images

What about ‘off-duty’ John Archibald?

“There’s not much time for that, everything revolves around The Europeans or the Commonwealth Games and now we’re in the Olympic cycle.

“Perhaps after that I’ll have more time for life outside of cycling?”

I was reading the, ‘thoughts of Chairman Dan’ regarding a mass Huub/Ribble attack on world records at the high altitude Aguascalientes Velodrome in Mexico…

“Yes, we’re all looking forward to that, no time has been formally set but the funds are in place and we’re probably looking at August time.

“The big goal is the team pursuit record but if things work out we’ll be going for other records, too.”

[Huub/Ribble main man and ‘aero guru’ Dan Bigham has mentioned John’s name in connection with an attempt on the world hour record, ed.]

Did you watch Victor Campenaerts successful attempt on The Hour?

“Yes, very impressive, he wasn’t scared of Wiggins distance and went out early doing 16.1 and 16.2 laps – Wiggins was on 16.4 pace.

“He had to reign himself in a little bit but it’s going to be a difficult distance to crack.

“It’s something we’re looking at and something I’m very interested in but the team pursuit world record is the main one for us.”

Have you considered the big late season Euro time trials – the Chrono Madelenois in September and Chrono des Nations in October?

“They’re very interesting but I don’t think they’re going to happen because that’s into UCI track World Cup season.

“But it would be nice to ride a big international time trial though, my last one was the Commonwealth Games which didn’t go well for me with having the crash.”

Nothing on this weekend?

“Just training then the Tour of Yorkshire, a wee bit of a trip into the unknown for me with World Tour teams there, I’ve never ridden at that level before so it’ll be interesting to see what it’s like”

We wish John well for Yorkshire and will keep an eye on those finishing sheets.

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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