‘Just let me finish…’: Katie Archibald column

'I just did my first road race of the season. I got dropped a lot but I got cheered on a lot more'

The best year I’ve ever had on the road was in 2017. After the 2016 Games my plan was to do all the fun bits of cycling all the time, so I raced a bunch that whole winter and did a big road season the following summer.

The Track Worlds weren’t until mid-April, which would usually mean my road season wouldn’t start until after that, but since I wasn’t doing team pursuit prep I started racing road in March. I won the omnium at that Worlds, and for a few months afterwards it felt like nothing could go wrong.

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I had some pretty ace team-mates (That I would name drop but for fear of how long the list would be) and when I daydream about that season it’s all memories of us punting around the UK and Europe feeling properly in the races. I won the sprinter’s jersey at Bira (a stage race in Spain), had my most successful year at the Tour of Britain, and got medals in the national road race, time trial and criterium (the final one a shiny gold).

But eventually I realised that if I wanted the fun to continue on the track that following season, if I wanted to play with the big kids in the winter, I’d have to do some specific training.

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So in August I went into a big gym build. I had the Tour of Norway that month but thought I’d be able to muddle through nonetheless. I was wrong and DNFed on the final stage. I was out the back with something like 100km of the stage left and riding in a small group of fellow sufferers, including a Norwegian national.

We reached the feed zone 40km later and all started looking for our team cars to end the pain and get driven to the finish. All except the Norwegian national, who kept riding so she could finish her home race. I remember thinking she was crazy.

This year has been my least active year on the road ever. I just did my first road race of the season in August – the Tour of Scotland. I got dropped a lot, I got cheered on a lot more, and I realised that Norwegian rider wasn’t crazy.

This Katie Archibald column originally appeared in the print edition of Cycling Weekly, on sale in newsagents and supermarkets, priced £3.25.

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