The last time we spoke to John Archibald he’d just won the Scottish Road Race Championship; since then he’s won a medal in the inaugural ‘mixed’ TTT Worlds in Harrogate, ridden well in the individual Worlds TT, enjoyed a World Cup in Minsk which saw him bested only by Filippo Ganna in the individual pursuit and part of the super-fast HUUB team pursuit squad which finished fifth in the Minsk World Cup and fourth in both the Glasgow and Brisbane World Cups.
Having put another rapid track campaign behind him, most recently he successfully defended his British Individual Pursuit title, helping his HUUB team to defend their Team Pursuit with a stunning 3:54 British record ride.
And now John is on the cusp of a new adventure, a trip to Bolivia to attack multiple world records.
We caught up with him at the HUUB training camp, high on Mount Teide, Tenerife where he and the HUUB boys are altitude training in anticipation of their trip to the Andes.
No fancy Ineos hotels for the HUUB boys though; they’re in an AirBnB and a camper van…
We opened by asking John if he was happy with his rides in the British Individual Pursuit Championship?
“I was happy with the result but the time wasn’t what I hoped for – I think I didn’t quite nail my taper correctly.”
Am I correct in thinking that GB are not sending anyone to the Worlds Individual Pursuit Championship?
“I’ve applied for ‘guest spots’ in the Kilometre and Pursuit per the selection process but I think I’m on the back foot because GB haven’t qualified anyone through the likes of the Europeans for either of those events.
“There’s a lot of hearsay floating around which I need clarify but the thing is that neither discipline is now an Olympic event…”
HUUB set a British record in the Team Pursuit; 3:54.00 – pretty impressive.
“Yeah, that was a nice ride, the previous best was 3:54.6 and we rode 3:54 dead.
“We wanted it and went out fast but when we made the catch we had to go high and that cost us a lot of time – we were on course to go quicker until then.”
No Olympic team pursuit selection for you either?
I believe things didn’t go well for you in the Points Race at the British Champs?
“There are three heats with eight to go through from each heat and in my heat there was a coming together of three of us, not a crash but a real bang; my foot was unclipped by the impact and it’s still badly bruised now.
“I tried for a couple of laps to clip back in but wasn’t getting anywhere so I slowed down and went low on the track to get my foot back in, but by that time I’d lost ¾ of a lap.
“I chased hard to get back, 490 watts for three minutes but they weren’t for letting me get back and I decided to pull out.”
Tenerife for altitude training?
“Yes, the ‘gold standard’ for altitude is to spend three weeks but we’re here for 10 days.
“We’ll be at between 1500 and 2400 metres; we did an altitude camp at the end of last year in Sierra Nevada and saw gains – we’re doing two camps here, one now then one in March to kick start us for Bolivia in April.
“We saw gains from Sierra Nevada but they don’t last long, that’s why the World Tour guys are at altitude until shortly before they go to big tours.
“But you have to be careful, above 1500 metres your aerobic power drops by 10% and more as you go higher – you have to be guided by heart rate rather than power and the consensus is that you should be careful with high intensity work at altitude.”
I read in Cycling Weekly that you’re in an AirBnB but have a camper van too for accommodation up there?
“Yes, five of us are in the BnB and Jonny Wale has chosen to sleep in the camper van.”
[Our spies tell us there’s a fire in the BnB but outside temperatures drop to below zero at night, ed.]
What’s the programme between this altitude camp and the next one in March?
“Back in Derby we’ll be sleeping in the altitude chamber and there’ll be a lot of track sessions – individual and team pursuit with main focus on the latter.”
Are the dates set for Bolivia?
“We’re still negotiating on that but it’ll be the end of April.
“It’s been a bit of hard work trying to get to right people in Bolivia but now we’re in touch with the same folks who were involved with Chris Hoy’s visit in 2007 when he set the 500 metre record in La Paz and things are moving along better.”
Which disciplines are you attacking?
“The Kilometre, 4,000 metres Individual and Team Pursuit and various Hour Records – World, World Masters, Scottish, British…”
What’s the plan post Bolivia?
“The British National Time Trial Championship is a big goal and I’d like to see if I can ride the UCI late season time trials like the Chrono de Nations and Duo Normand.
“That wasn’t possible before because I was preparing for the track World Cups but with the change in the UCI rules means there’ll be no HUUB participation.
“I can still ride UCI ‘Class 1’ events and the National Track Championships will be a target, of course.”
And will you still be with Ribble on the road?
“Yes, but I’ll have to think about life after HUUB, normal living and sustaining myself.
“It would be nice if we got some good results in Bolivia to see if I could get a major team interested in me but I’m 29 years-old now so that’s against me and I’d have to see about getting myself an agent – pro team contracts have to be sought out, they don’t hand contracts out on a plate!”