cycling news

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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Bauke Mollema wins Tour of Lombardy for first classic victory

Bauke Mollema wins the Tour of Lombardy trophy

Mollema completes a comfortable victory at the finish line in Como

Bauke Mollema secured the biggest victory of his career when he won the Tour of Lombardy one-day race, the last of the year’s five ‘Monument’ classics.

The 32-year-old Trek-Segafredo rider attacked 20km from the finish and finished 16 seconds clear of former world champion Alejandro Valverde.

Tour de France champion Egan Bernal, 10 years younger than Mollema, was third.

Mollema is the third Dutch winner of the coveted race and the first since Hennie Kuiper in 1981.

He made his break two kilometres from the summit in the 243km race from Bergamo to the banks of Lake Como, ahead of a group featuring Bernal, Valverde and Vuelta a Espana winner Primoz Roglic.

“I wasn’t the favourite so maybe the other riders underestimated me a bit,” said the Dutchman, who won a stage of the Tour de France in 2017, and the San Sebastian classic in 2016.

“I found the right moment to attack. I just went full gas in the last 10 kilometres. It’s unreal.”

In his 11th attempt at a classic, Mollema had built a lead of 40 seconds at the foot of San Fermo della Battaglia, the final climb eight kilometres from the line, and held off late attacks from both Roglic and Valverde to give his team their 10th success of the season.

Spaniard Valverde, 39, recorded his third second-place finish in the race, becoming the oldest competitor to achieve a podium finish.

Tour of Lombardy result:

1. B Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 5hrs 52mins 59secs,

2. A Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team +16secs

3. E Gomez (Col) Team Ineos same time

4. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana pro Team same time

5. Michael Woods (Can) Ef Education First +34secs

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Road World Championships: Marshal gives rider helping hand after collision

A rider in the women’s under 23 road race at the cycling world championships got a helping hand after a collision.

Slovenian rider Metka Mikuz was racing through South Yorkshire when she hit a flag-waving marshal, who was warning riders of a traffic island.

The pair fell but both quickly got up and the marshal gave the cyclist a helping hand with a push to get her started again.

Available to UK users only.

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Laura Kenny aiming for a hat-trick of golds at European Championships

Neah Evans, Laura Kenny, Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald

Laura Kenny (second from left) along with Neah Evans, Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald, won gold in the women’s team pursuit at the 2018 European Championships in Glasgow

Laura Kenny will go for triple gold at the European Championships next week as a potential Olympic rehearsal.

Kenny will race in the team pursuit and the omnium in Apeldoorn in the Netherlands, events in which she won gold at London 2012 and Rio 2016.

The 27-year-old will also do the madison – part of the women’s Olympic programme for the first time in Tokyo.

“I’d like to say that I can do all three events, but I guess in a week’s time I will actually know,” she said.

“I’ve been there before – I’ve doubled up at both the Olympics that I’ve been to, so for me, taking on a third event doesn’t really seem that strange.

“When you’re just racing the team pursuit you can focus on that, but when you throw in the bunch races, there’s the tactical side of things and the possibility of crashing, which can obviously affect the races to come.

“But at the moment I’m going into it thinking and hoping that I will be good enough come Tokyo to do all three, so we’ll have to see what happens.”

Her husband, Jason Kenny, winner of six Olympic gold medals, headlines the men’s team for Apeldoorn.

Great Britain squads for UEC European Championships – Apeldoorn, Netherlands, 16-20 Oct:

Men: Endurance – Ed Clancy, Ethan Hayter, Charlie Tanfield, Matt Walls, Ollie Wood. Sprint – Jack Carlin, Jason Kenny, Ryan Owens, Joe Truman.

Women: Endurance – Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker, Ellie Dickinson, Neah Evans, Laura Kenny, Emily Nelson. Sprint – Sophie Capewell, Katy Marchant.

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Kenny to join new Olympic mums support network

Laura Kenny

Laura Kenny won gold at the European Championships in Glasgow in August 2018, a year after giving birth to son Albie

A support group for mothers competing at Tokyo 2020 has been set up by the British Athletes’ Commission.

The Mothers in Elite Sport Network will offer support to British athletes, including four-time Olympic champion Laura Kenny, who are balancing the demands of elite sport and motherhood.

Kenny says she has had to “balance her life differently” since the birth of her son Albie in August 2017.

Set up as a private Facebook group, the network will offer help to Olympic and Paralympic athletes with issues such as childcare, returning to training after childbirth and the physical effects of becoming a mother.

“They are putting in place this group where you can speak to other athletes who’ve had a baby,” Kenny said.

“I was looking at it and there are eight who are currently qualified for Tokyo.

“You look at the wider world and I’m amazed at how many there are. It’s inspirational.”

Kenny, 27, won her first medals since becoming a mother when she took gold in the team pursuit and elimination events at the European Championships in Glasgow in August 2018.

“I always wanted to have a baby in the middle of my career,” she said. “I wanted to be a young mum and so I was willing to hang up my wheels for a year.

“I wanted to treat my career like any other mother. I’ve shown you can do it but there are so many role models now.”

She says that she takes inspiration from Allyson Felix from the United States and Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, two mothers who both won gold medals at the recent World Athletics Championships in Doha.

Felix was part of the USA’s winning 4x400m relay team 10 months and one day after giving birth to daughter Camryn, while Fraser-Pryce took the 100m world title two years after her son Zyon was born.

“Allyson Felix is absolutely incredible,” Kenny said. “I know just how hard it is to come back so to do that after eight to 10 months is incredible.

“Shelly-Ann had hers roughly at the same time as me, so she’s had two years to get back.”

‘First and foremost now, I’m a mum’

Kenny’s four Olympic golds – in the team pursuit and omnium at London 2012, and the same events at Rio 2016 – were won before the birth of her son, and she acknowledges that she is a different person now.

She believes that being a mother has given her a different perspective on cycling, but that her competitive fire has not dimmed.

“I have to balance my life differently,” said the Briton, who is married to six-time Olympic champion Jason Kenny.

“There are no rest days for me as such because on those days I like to look after Albie myself. I’m not just sitting at home with my feet up, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

“It’s not that I don’t care now, but because Albie is my absolute priority, that brings something completely different, which is a benefit.

“I used to get so wound up, stressed and nervous. First and foremost now, I’m a mum.

“Before I was an athlete 24/7, where you always have to think about yourself – what you are eating, what you are doing.

“Being a mum has brought a different reality and it shows that you do not have to be as completely wrapped up in it to be successful.”

‘I can’t explain the feeling of winning’


Laura Kenny and her husband Jason have won a total of 10 Olympic gold medals between them

Kenny’s next event will be the Six Day London later this month. It is part of the Six Day Series, a competition that combines cycling with an atmosphere more akin to a disco.

She will partner up for the event with Elinor Barker, with whom she rode as part of Britain’s team pursuit Olympic champions in Rio. In addition, Kenny will ride at Six Day Manchester in March 2020.

Kenny remains as enthusiastic about the sport as ever. With a full life at home, she says would walk away from her sport in an instant if she ever lost the desire to compete.

“I just love it,” she said. “It never feels like I am doing a job. Because it is so difficult to leave this little person, I would not give that up if I didn’t enjoy it.

“I can’t explain the feeling of winning, it’s overwhelming. But before you can reach that point, you have to love the day-to-day stuff and have that sheer love to just get on a bike.

“I would not carry on if I didn’t enjoy it.

“The Olympics are every four years and it takes so much to get there. But it would not cross my mind to stop tomorrow if I wasn’t enjoying it.”

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