Perhaps Cycling Weekly magazine no longer sees it as the stuff of front cover headlines but to time testers it’s still ‘the one’ – The Blue Riband time trial, the CTT National 25 Mile Championship.
And again the honours came north for 2021, thanks to John Archibald’s (EOLO Kometa) successful defence of his 2020 title, this time on the L2529 Bassenthwaite Lake, Keswick to Cockermouth course.
With editor Martin a former Scottish 25 mile title holder and your scribe a confirmed ‘clock basher’ back when dinosaurs roamed the earth we always try to connect with the ‘25’ champion and John kindly consented to speak to us just a day or two after his successful defence.
Congratulations, John – is that winning 45:48 a personal best?
“No, I’ve gone faster down in Wales and last year I won the title with a 44:50 ride.”
I believe the weather wasn’t kind to the competitors in the race?
“It was pretty grim, I’ve ridden three variations of that course, the 10, 25 and 50 mile events and it’s rained hard every time.
“I guess it’s just the location of the course, among the mountains and large expanses of water of the Lake District?
“The first 10 or 15 minutes saw a proper deluge and then there was the wind – we had a very strong cross wind along the lakeside but there was one section with the tail wind where I had five minutes riding at 65 kph plus – that part wasn’t so fast into the wind though…”
Can we ask about your ‘numbers?’
“Sure, it’s all online: 404 watts average power, heart rate 164, cadence 93, I was happy with those numbers.
“My power isn’t extraordinary but the more aero you are the more effectively you use those watts – actually, the top three riders, Simon Wilson, Chris Fennel and myself all posted similar power figures.”
Tell us about your machine.
“It had team decals but was actually unbranded, we ride Aurum frames in the team but they don’t have a time trial frame in their range yet.
“My position is very similar to last year and I brought some of my equipment over; ‘bars, wheels, brakes, but I had to change certain components to honour sponsor commitments, Look Keo pedals for one and Prologo saddle for another.
“Clothing-wise I rode a Gobic speedsuit and Kask helmet.”
[Here at VeloVeritas we’re still equipment anoraks and did a little homework on John’s matt black ‘stealth’ machine:
- Shifting is courtesy Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, with CeramicSpeed Oversized jockey wheels to the rear derailleur.
- Rotor INspider ALDHU provide the carbon cranks for a 60 tooth Pyramid chainring.
- As John mentions, pedals are Look Keo Blade Carbon.
- A Walker Brothers WideBoy TT rear disc is paired with an ENVE SES 7.8 front on Vittoria Corsa Speed 25mm tubeless tyres.
- And we spotted a natty WattShop Anemoi aero valve cover to the front wheel.
- Bars are super-aero TriRig Alpha One; the same company provide the brakes which are very reminiscent of the old Modolo Kronos design – let’s hope that unlike Kronos, they actually stop you.
- The Archibald posterior rests on a Prologo T-Gale saddle.]
“The only thing is that changing to Look pedals meant I’ve had to re-learn clipping in and out!”
Some pro teams are more committed to time trials than others, where do EOLO Kometa stand?
“They’re more into road racing; that might change if our programmes changes so there are more time trials involved and/or if we had a GC rider who had to perform against the watch.
“I’m one of the few team riders who has a time trial bike at home.”
Tell us about your build up to the race.
“It was difficult, my coach at the team has me building towards the Tour Poitou – Charentes en Nouvelle Aquitaine, a UCI 2.1 race over five stages including a time trial and running from 24th to 26th August.
“I’ve been under a heavy training load and had to back off Friday – when I felt terrible – and Saturday where I felt much better.
“My coach on the team is Carlos Barredo (who rode for Liberty Seguros, QuickStep and Rabobank as a professional), he looks after 10 of us on the team and coaches the u23 riders too.”
What races have you been riding recently?
“I rode the Scottish CTT 10 mile championship [where he recorded 18:12, the fastest ever on Scottish roads, ed.], a National B race at Upton and have the Lancaster GP coming up – but I have my second Covid jag a day or two before it so I’m not sure how my system will react to that.”
How has the transition to the ‘Continental pro life’ been for you?
“It’s not been a revelation but it’s been difficult to impose myself in races where there’s so much depth to the fields – there are 150 guys all with similar numbers to you.
“I’ve not had a huge amount of racing but it’s been a good experience, learning about how a team is organised and honing my bunch riding skills.
“The race I have ridden, Classica Almeira, Trofeo Laigueglia, Tirreno and Vuelta Asturias have all had extremely strong fields with full World Tour team representation, so it’s all been very high level racing.”
What of your track ambitions?
“They’ve been on ‘hold,’ I have a one year contract with EOLA Kometa so I’ll have to see if I get a renewal, if not then I’ll re-commit to the track with the Commonwealth Games in mind.
“The British track national champs are in January with qualifying times for the Games closing in March so I’ll just have to see how things develop – but I haven’t touched my track bike since January.”
Is GB selection for the World Championship time trial a possibility?
“I’ve applied for selection to the team time trial but think that selection for the individual event is unlikely, you have Alex Dowsett and then there’s Geraint Thomas with a point to prove.
“The British time trial championships aren’t until October so by that time the Worlds have passed so they’re of no use as a selection pointer.”
“I guess I’ll have to let the dust settle at the end of this road season and assess whether it’s the road or I’m back on the track?”
With thanks and congratulations again to John, we’ll be keeping a weather on those Poiteau Charentes results, here at VeloVeritas.