Six seconds, that was the margin between five times previous champion, gold medal winner and former World Hour Record Holder, Alex Dowsett [Katusha] and silver medallist, Scotland’s John Archibald [Ribble Pro Cycling] in last week’s British Cycling Time Trial Championship in Norfolk.
There’s a ‘but’…
With two kilometres to go Archibald dropped his chain and lost most of the air from his rear tyre after hitting a pothole; Archibald was riding a single ring setup and the chain jammed between the ring and chainstay.
We heard from one of our spies that Archibald had to prise the chain loose and get it back on the ring before he could put the power down again – it sounds like more than six seconds lost to us?
But we’re at pains to emphasise that we had to talk Archibald into allowing us to print this information. He was adamant that Dowsett won ‘fair and square’ and he didn’t want to come across as saying he would have won but for the brush with the pothole.
That was the Thursday and on the Sunday he took the bronze medal home from the British Elite Road Race Championship which finished in Norwich, having been a key part of the winning move with Ineos stars, former champion, double Het Nieuwsblad winner and Roubaix podium finisher, Ian Stannard and former World Scratch Champion, top five Worlds Road Race finisher and twice Milan-Sanremo podium finisher, Ben Swift.
VeloVeritas caught up with the slim man who just keeps on getting better on the Tuesday after his splendid performances.
Great performances, John – we were wondering if riding the Tour of Yorkshire set you up for such a strong couple of rides?
“It seemed like a good training block but I’m not convinced it actually did my form any good.
“I was fatigued for a couple of weeks after and like I say, I’m not sure of the benefit but that said, it was a great experience to be exposed to that level of competition.”
Isn’t difficult to prepare for a time trial at that level whilst being in shape for the road race?
“I’ve done a lot of road racing this year including National events with four hour durations, so my prep for the road was good and I just had to do a couple of weeks of time trialling specific work.
“The road racing has made a big difference to me; last year I might have been starting to struggle after three hours whereas now I’m still there after four hours.”
And the big question – those six seconds in the time test, could you have found it?
“Well, I did drop my chain at two kilometres to go after hitting an enormous pot hole, I lost pressure in the back tyre – I was on tubeless and think if I had been on other type of tyre then I’d have double punctured.
“But I don’t want to say it cost me the race, Dowsett won fair and square.”
You mentioned that the road course was one which suited those with the ‘aero’ aspect well sorted?
“The race was flat and with a 45 kph average and speeds regularly touching 60 kph you have to be ‘aero’ and that’s one aspect that our team has well-dialled.
“With the course being so flat and fast, it was one I could initiate moves on, rather than play catch up on the hills.”
Is it in order to ask about your championship watts?
“Sure. In the time trial I averaged 379 watts for the 49 minutes and in the road race my average was 271 watts, normalised to 300 watts.
“Because I’m economical I don’t do especially high watts; I was pleased that inside 20 K to go I was achieving my highest numbers of the race.
“As I said earlier, in the past at three hours my power would drop but now I can produce my best figures after four hours.”
“I guess the one good thing about riding against Sky/Ineos in the National is that you know exactly what’s going to happen – they’ll do their best to blow the race apart from the off?
“In the National that’s generally what happens but this year with the route being so flat and fast it was very difficult for a move to get clear, they would go but there were always plenty of people to chase them down.
“I sat in for the first 120 Km – that’s the point where folks are starting to get tired – then I started to move.
“I ended up with the two Ineos guys, I knew it would be difficult for me but at the same time they’re both guys who know what they’re about so I knew that it was the move.”
Ian Stannard is bestial, is he not?
“Relentless, very impressive, he gave Ben such an easy ride, and they ended up one-two so the day couldn’t have been better for them, really.”
Swift’s winning jump was pretty impressive.
“In the finale he just sat on me when Stannard was away but when he did go, he really went, you could see he was very confident.”
I know the answer to this question is probably, ‘not much’ but with hindsight, could you have done anything differently against them?
“I have thought about that but Stannard kept manoeuvring me into the middle of the group so I really couldn’t make a move; perhaps if I’d slowed it right down so that I could drop back, lay off the wheels then attack – but it was always going to be difficult against two men of their ability and tactical expertise.”
After your TT ride the Worlds TT must be on your radar?
“I’m not sure, I believe the Worlds course is pretty hilly and perhaps more suited to a climber/TT rider – but perhaps the TTT relay, I don’t know…”
What’s next on the agenda?
“I have the Beaumont Trophy, Stockton GP, Scottish Road Race Championship then the CTT ’10’ Champs, then it’s back to the track.”
Talking of the track, the UCI changes to the World Cups must be a disappointment to you HUUB guys?
“It is disappointing, I can’t see the benefit or follow the thought process behind the changes – there are a lot of folks aggrieved by it, not just us.
“The BEAT team aren’t happy and the Welsh guys enter the World Cups as a trade team.
“Dan Bigham (HUUB rider/guru, ed.) has a podcast coming up with UCI boss, David Lappartient so that should be interesting.”
And what of the HUUB multiple world record attempts in Aguascalientes?
“Yes, that’s still happening but it’ll be next year now.”
VeloVeritas looks forward to that one, with the individual and four kilometre pursuit and one hour records all on the HUUB radar.