Cycling Weekly is counting down the top 30 British Riders of the Year thoughout December. The top 10 will be revealed in the December 19 issue of Cycling Weekly magazine.
NUMBER 17: KATIE ARCHIBALD
The rise (from almost nowhere) of Katie Archibald is one of the stories of not just the cycling season but the sporting year.
The 19-year-old from Milngavie near Glasgow had never raced on a solid velodrome before 2012. In fact, she only started racing a bike a couple of years ago, in grass track races at the Highland Games, as a way to make a bit of pocket money.
Quickly she proved good at it, beating men in handicapped races in which she was often given a head start that proved to be too generous. Last year she won a national junior title in the pursuit.
But this year, her rise has been meteoric. She was thrown in at the deep end at the European Championships in Apeldoorn in October.
She was picked in the quartet for Great Britain’s first competitive outing over four kilometres. They qualified fastest and set a new world record. She retained her place for the final and they went even faster. It was her first international competition and she was a European champion.
It was at the World Cup in Manchester a few weeks later, riding for the Scotland-Braveheart team, that she continued to catch the eye. A bronze medal in the scratch race and third place in the individual pursuit were two brilliant performances from a rider who was undoubtedly raw but appears to be a diamond ready to polish into a world class athlete.
This month she represented Great Britain in a World Cup for the first time, in Aguascalientes in Mexico, where a British team – minus Laura Trott – broke the world record twice on their way to a gold medal (although admittedly at altitude).
Archibald is an exciting talent. The way she raced so aggressively in that scratch race in Manchester, and then, undaunted, spent a long painful time off the front of the bunch trying to gain a lap in the points race was what fans of pure racing love to see.
We’re going to be hearing a lot more of Katie Archibald in the coming years.
British Riders of the Year 2013: Related links