Katie Archibald column: A mad dash for the Madison

'Qualification heats would now be taking place a few hours after we landed in Milan. Luckily, doing a warm-up before qualifications is for dweebs'

I’m in Italy with the gals at the moment racing a UCI Class 1 on the track. The men’s event is a six-day (Fiorenzuola 6 Giorni Delle Rose) and there’s women’s racing on five of the evenings. We decided we’d enter the final three evenings of racing: the points race, the omnium and the Madison. Then the night before we flew, a Kiwi rider messaged my team-mate Elinor Barker saying, “Haha, you can’t race in that,” referring to the skirt she was wearing in a photo.

Turns out the programme had changed, we hadn’t heard, and the Madison qualification heats would now be taking place a few hours after we landed in Milan. Thank goodness for Instagram…Luckily, doing a warm-up before qualifications is for dweebs. It’s for the kind of loser rider who wants to qualify comfortably, feel capable of walking afterwards, doesn’t like the taste of blood in the back of their throat, is called Katie Archibald, is, you know, a full-on wet blanket.

We made it in time to race. Elinor and I were one of the three British pairings racing together and we qualified, calmed down (Elinor had also lost her suitcase but she’s a good athlete and her racing kit was in her hand luggage), listened to some music, talked tactics for the final, and then won. So that was nice. If a little odd that the main ambition of our trip had been wrapped up so soon after arriving.

Today, our final day here, I asked Neah Evans (another team-mate) what I should write about the trip for Cycling Weekly. She got me to read out last week’s column, which ends on the sentence: “I’m usually alright at riding with both wheels on the ground going fast.”

Neah says I need to issue an official retraction, pointing out I crashed in the omnium here in Italy. Which is true. It didn’t, however, affect my race and I ended the omnium with silver, one point behind Polish winner Karolina Karasiewicz, so that was nice again. Unfortunately I did wreck another helmet, so I’m missing today’s points race (concussion protocol), which is not nice.

It’s still 2-1 to nice though, so I’m happy enough. Good trip.