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John Archibald – CTT 25 Mile TT Champion 2020

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For all the fact that the competitors now look very similar in their optimised aero tucks, POC helmets, disc wheels and kamm tailed profiled frame tubes, it’s still THE race to win.

The CTT – formerly the RTTC – 25 Mile Time Trial Championship.

In 1945 and 1948 it was won by Cyril Cartwright  who went on to win a Worlds silver medal in the individual pursuit in 1949  before taking the Empire – now Commonwealth – Games pursuit title in 1950.

In 1957 it was won by twice Commonwealth and World Amateur Pursuit Champion, Norman Sheil.

In 1961, Peace Race top 20 finisher, BBAR and End to End record breaker, John Woodburn won. 

The legend that is Alf Engers took the first of six wins in 1969.

Tour de France yellow jersey holder and British Professional Road race Champion, Sean Yates claimed the 1980 title.

Another Tour de France yellow jersey wearer, World Hour Record holder, world professional time trial and pursuit champion, Chris Boardman took the first of five titles in 1989.

In 1996 Graeme Obree became the first Scot to take the title, it adds to his World Hour records and World Pursuit titles.

The late, great Jason Macintyre took the title twice, in 2006 and 2007, becoming the second Scot to do so.

And now there’s a third Scot on the roll of honour, John Archibald, Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling, added it to his 2018 CTT 10 mile title with a 44:50 ride which also saw him lead Dan Bigham and Simon Wilson to the team title.

VeloVeritas caught up with John the day after his stunning performance.

Congratulations, John is 44:50 your personal best?

“No, I have a 44:41 down on that course in Wales where you have the ‘gift’ downhill start.”

John Archibald
John Archibald looked super-aero at the World Championships last year but is constantly looking for improvements. Photo©Martin Williamson

Are we allowed to ask about numbers?

“I averaged 400 watts which is more than I’ve ever done in the past.”

Tell us about the course and conditions.

“On the way out it was a net downhill but really, it was rolling, there was a massive headwind on the way out, I averaged 50 kph; on the way back it was a net uphill with a huge tailwind, albeit it was more crosswind at some points, my average speed on the return leg was 57 kph.

“It was dry so just the wind to contend with, the surface was good except for about three or four miles which was concrete section with some bad potholes.

“I think some competitors got caught out there with tri-bars slipping but we’d driven the course the day before so knew what to look out for.”

Tell us about the gearing and rubber on that Ribble…

“I was on a 58 ring x 11 up, but at these kind of speeds a 62 ring would make more sense because you could ride the 12 sprocket with a better chain line.

“I was on tubeless clinchers.

“All the bearings are ceramic – hubs and bottom bracket – with Ceramic Speed over-size rear gear rollers.” 

What sort of training does it take to get a ‘44’?

“A lot of work on the Turbo trainer once you have your base volume done.

“I focus on gradual improvement, I’m up 10 watts on last year.

“I find that to do the quality of work you require, it’s best done on the Turbo, trying to do those kind of efforts on the open road can be a bit scary with current traffic conditions.

“But I have invested in an ‘Airhub’ front wheel, it’s a precision electromagnetic braking system, contained within a hub that fits into your front forks, just like a normal bicycle wheel.

“It means you can dial up the resistance so you’re getting the same resistance but at lower speeds, which makes things a lot safer.

“It’s a relatively new idea from the company, which is based in Australia.”

Pursuiting and Time Trialling are John Archibald’s main focus. Photo©RibbleCycles

Who sets your training programmes?

“I set my own, I have done since I started on the bike but worked with Mark McKay at Scottish Cycling on the lead up to the Commonwealth Games.

“I swam competitively at a pretty high level and worked with a number of coaches since I was 10 or 11 years-old – I learned a lot from them.

“When I got into cycling it seemed that you did a big club run on a Sunday then went out and murdered yourself with the chain gang a couple of nights each week.

“I thought to myself; ‘there must be a better way than this to do it!’” 

What about Marcin Bialoblocki’s 42:58 competition record, is it achievable?

“Maybe on a good day on that course in Wales which we were talking about, I couldn’t generate the power to do it on a course like this – although a really fancy skinsuit would help – but in Wales you have that kilometre downhill of free speed at 70/75 kph; then you don’t have to climb back up there at the finish.” 

Tell us about your position.

“I aspire to get as low as possible at the front but then you have to ask, is it sustainable?

“Four minutes testing is one thing but a race is 10 times that long; my bars are not as low as Dan Bigham’s for instance but it’s a trade-off – you might be more aero if you were lower but can you be comfortable for the duration of the race and sustain it?”  

You were reserve for the Worlds TT, did you watch it on TV for inspiration?

“It was interesting to look at what works for different riders, some of it is stuff I’ve tried but it didn’t work for me – it just endorses that position is very specific to the individual.

“You look at Ganna on that tiny frame with huge seat pillar showing and huge stacks on his bars – he’s such a big, broad muscular guy.”

John Archibald at TT speed. Photo©RibbleCycles

The 50 mile Champs next up? 

“Yes, that’s this coming weekend up in the North East of England, I’ll go up a day or two before to check out the course, which I believe is quite complicated with a big loop then smaller ones to describe.”

The Commonwealth Games TT was a disappointment last time for you with your crash; but you must be looking forward to Birmingham 2022?

“It seems a long way away but yes, it’s a goal – albeit that it’s hard now to prepare for the time trial and the pursuit which is where I’d say my main interest is.”

And Scotland has the opportunity to field a strong line up in the Team Pursuit?

“Yes, it’s an interesting prospect with riders like Kyle Gordon, Mark Stewart and Alfie George and there are exciting riders coming up through the youth ranks.

“I’ve spoken to Scottish Cycling and we think that to be medal competitive for Birmingham is a realistic prospect.”

VeloVeritas wishes John, Kyle Gordon and all Scottish competitors well for the CTT ‘50’ Championships.

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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