Fastest pursuit rider at sea level John Archibald can go faster still

Newly crowned individual pursuit National Champion still has room for improvement according to his team

John Archibald may yet be able to go faster in the individual pursuit than the time he set in Manchester on Saturday morning (January 26) which is the fastest ever at sea level, according to his team-mate.

Huub-Wattbike rider Archibald rode a 4.09.584 in qualifying at the British National Championships, knocking more than half a second off the previous fastest sea-level time of 4.10.177, which he set in Switzerland last month. Archibald’s best is just over two seconds off American Ashton Lambie’s World Record of 4.07.251 set at altitude at Aguascalientes, Mexico last year.

But those close to Archibald told Cycling Weekly there is still more speed to be found for the newly crowned National pursuit champion, and breaking the world record may even be possible. “I don’t think that’s the best ride he can do by a long way,” said Huub-Wattbike team-mate Dan Bigham, who finished second to Archibald in the IP.

>>> Fastest individual pursuit times in history

Aeroexpert and owner of kit supplier WattShop Bigham, who analyses the data from the team's training and race sessions, said he could see many ways to improve.

“For example look at his kit, he doesn’t wear this skin suit [gesturing to his own], it’s faster but he doesn’t like the feel of it, so he doesn’t wear it. He’s not wearing the fastest socks, not riding the fastest drive train set up he’s chucking away 10-15watts in kit alone,” he added.

Huub-Wattbike have previously said they hope to take a trip to altitude in Mexico later this year and Bigham felt Archibald has the qualities needed to break the IP world record there.

Archibald himself said the conditions in Manchester were not as favourable as they were for his previous best.

“That time [in Manchester] wasn’t expected, but in the back of my mind I was thinking about it,” he said. “The conditions in Switzerland were better, I think, but I was a bit fresher a bit more motivated here and it worked out.”

>>> Huub–Wattbike rider John Archibald sets second fastest individual pursuit time in history 

Spectators at the Manchester velodrome’s evening session had hoped they might see a repeat of the morning’s time, or better as Archibald was on a similar pace in the final against Bigham before he caught his team-mate with less than 1km to race but he then eased off rather than continue to set a time.

“I was thinking about it again but as I was catching him, usually in the draft you speed up or the speed gets easier to hold and I was slowing down so I knew once I went past him I was going to blow,” said Archibald.

Bigham added: “That performance is standard day-in-day-out… He’s one of those guys that can absorb that training load.”

Archibald seemed pleased with his time but for the moment remains focused on maintaining the momentum he has built in the last month as he hopes to land a slot in the Great British Cycling Team for the World Championships in Poland at the end of February.

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Vern Pitt

Having trained as a journalist at Cardiff University I spent eight years working as a business journalist covering everything from social care, to construction to the legal profession and riding my bike at the weekends and evenings. When a friend told me Cycling Weekly was looking for a news editor, I didn't give myself much chance of landing the role, but I did and joined the publication in 2016. Since then I've covered Tours de France, World Championships, hour records, spring classics and races in the Middle East. On top of that, since becoming features editor in 2017 I've also been lucky enough to get myself sent to ride my bike for magazine pieces in Portugal and across the UK. They've all been fun but I have an enduring passion for covering the national track championships. It might not be the most glamorous but it's got a real community feeling to it.