Archibald out to be Olympic ‘pioneer’ in the madison

Katie Archibald, Laura Kenny, Elinor Barker and Joanna Rowsell-Shand

Katie Archibald (left) won gold in the team pursuit at the Rio Olympics in 2016 alongside Laura Kenny, Elinor Barker and Joanna Roswell-Shand

Ask Katie Archibald whether she is thinking about the Olympic Games in Tokyo next summer and her answer speaks volumes.

“It’s 284 days away,” she says, checking the countdown clock on her phone.

The European Championships take place this week in Apeldoorn in the Netherlands and there are World Championships in Berlin in February, but they are merely stepping stones on the road to Japan.

Archibald went to her first Olympics at Rio in 2016 and was part of Great Britain’s team pursuit squad that won gold with Laura Kenny, Elinor Barker and Joanna Rowsell-Shand.

So after experiencing such a high, 25-year-old Archibald has her heart set on getting to Tokyo and aiming for a repeat.

Given that World and European Championships come around every year in track cycling, it is the build-up and wait for the Olympics that makes everything worthwhile.

“You want to be world champion and European champion, but the Olympics trumps everything,” Archibald tells BBC Sport.

“So much of what we think about is geared towards the Olympics. It is worth sacrificing so much for.

“There is something about committing yourself to a long-term goal that happens once every four years.

“The Olympics has this incredible power. You know the power it has when it goes well but obviously it has the potential to go badly, too.

“You know it means so much but I am prepared to take that emotional risk.”

‘I could be a pioneer’


Archibald won gold in the madison at the 2018 World Championships in Apeldoorn, only the second time the event has been in the competition

Archibald makes no bones about what her immediate aims are in terms of Tokyo. She wants to be selected for the team pursuit again, and the first women’s Olympic madison.

The Scot won gold in the event at the World Championships in 2018 alongside Emily Nelson, but her participation in Japan is not guaranteed.

With countries limited to only one pair per event, the hardest battle will be to make the Britain team. Archibald is one of five riders – along with Nelson, Barker, Kenny and Neah Evans – competing for two spots.

“It’s a very good problem for us to have,” Archibald says.

“Other countries have started selecting their pairs, so they can concentrate and prepare specifically for this race. But I think it’s an advantage for us that we have such strength in depth.

“We will continue to switch our line-up before the final selection in March, so it’s about being comfortable riding with anyone.

“When I first started watching track cycling I fell in love with the points race, and the madison is the two-person equivalent.

“So to have this opportunity open up is great. It would be a huge privilege to compete in the first ever Olympic competition and I really want to make that selection.

“It was frustrating and heart-breaking when the madison wasn’t a women’s event. So hopefully I could be a pioneer for it.”

After the European Championships, Archibald will compete alongside Evans at the Six Day London 22 to 27 October, as part of the Six Day Series.

With music, lights and atmosphere, it is a far cry from more traditional cycling events, but it is something Archibald has grown to love.

“The first time I did a Six Day event I found it really intimidating,” she recalls.

“I was doing a team event and we couldn’t really talk, it was so noisy. There is a totally different vibe, but I got into it very quickly.

“Doing well in London means we get UCI points to get into World Cup events and the World Championships, so we are taking it seriously.”

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