John Archibald has shared his nerves and excitement after he received a last-minute call up to replace Geraint Thomas in the World Championship time trial.
The British track specialist hasn’t raced an individual time trial since the 2019 National Championships in June, where he finished second, but will now be competing against the strongest testers in the world in Yorkshire.
British Cycling had selected Alex Dowsett and Geraint Thomas to fly the British flag in the TT, but Thomas pulled out four days before to focus on on the elite road race.
Archibald, who races as part of the Huub-Wattbike team on the boards, says he feels a mixture of nerves and excitement at the prospect of representing the country at the Yorkshire 2019 World Championships.
The 28-year-old said: “I’ve only had a few days to panic. There’s only so much planning you can do in three days.
“I got phone call from Stephen Park, the [British Cycling] performance director on the Friday saying that potentially Geraint was going to pull out, Tao [Geoghegan Hart], who was the first reserve, wasn’t able to race, so the selection policy was up in the air because none of us had applied to do the time trial. They wanted to give us the opportunity to ride. So we got nominated on the Saturday. And that was the first time I knew that I was going to be riding.
“Then you realise ‘oh god I’ve got two days look at the course and I’m racing the World Championships.’”
Despite a three-month layoff in solo time trials, Archibald has been in good form as he prepared for the World Championship mixed relay time trial, with the British team taking bronze in that discipline.
But now the Scot, the older brother of track star Katie Archibald, will now have to test himself over a long and lumpy course on Tuesday (September 25), covering 54km from Northallerton to Harrogate.
He said: “I was well prepared for the mixed time trial, but that being a 14km effort where it was turns on the front with high power and then resting in the wheels, it very much suited the team pursuit training we do at the moment on the track. So I hadn’t altered my training that much for that team time trial, and I think we were well prepared.
“The 54km time trial is going to take over an hour and it’s a very different type of effort. I’m still fit, but I’ve not tested myself in those zones, really. So what I get on the day will be slightly unknown, but I feel confident about it.”
Archibald can take a huge boost from his performance in the British National Championships time trial in June, where he finished just six seconds behind winner Alex Dowsett.
He said: “Even though that was my last [TT], I spend two days a week on the track bike in that time trial position. I’m certainly used to handling the bike. It’s more a case of physiologically, what can I do for an hour and 10-15 minutes?
“It makes me more confident in jumping at this opportunity to take the time trial on, knowing that if I’m on my best day, I can be in the mix with guys like Dowsett then you should go into it with confidence, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Archibald, who has been setting records on the track in the individual pursuit, added: “The course is very lumpy. So I don’t know how bigger riders like myself will fair, but then if you get a south-west wind, it negates a lot of the hills and it works in my favour. So I could get lucky on the day. I have never done an elite time trial beyond the Nationals, so to measure myself up against these names, I’m a bit unsure at the moment where I’ll fare.”
On his ambition for the event, he said: “I’ll deliver the best performance I can do and if I got top 10, I’ll be very pleased. Looking at the names on the list, it’s going to be a tough ask. But that’s the kind of ballpark we’re looking at when you compete for GB at World Championships.”