KATIE Archibald’s dramatic elevation to the high echelons of track cycling continued yesterday with the 19-year-old from Milngavie becoming Scotland’s first female world champion. However, Archibald herself declared that she had been living with the pressure of ticking this particular box for some time.
With red, white and blue dyed hair, the colourful teenager has stood out in the all-powerful British scene as much for her pedal power as her appearance, and she admitted there was a sense of relief at adding the world team pursuit title to the European crown they won last autumn in the Netherlands.
Archibald, who has been a revelation since joining the squad full-time in Manchester in November – she was selected ahead of Olympic gold medallist Dani King, a reserve – said: “For a long time there’s been the pressure of living up to your team-mates and knowing that they’ve been Olympic champions, world champions, time and time again and so it’s good to have someone on your heels, not just bumping elbows with your team-mates.”
Not that the female foursome’s achievement in Cali, Colombia came easily. They flirted with failure before securing gold on day two of the Track Cycling World Championships.
Joanna Rowsell, Laura Trott, Archibald and Elinor Barker claimed Britain’s sixth women’s team pursuit world title out of seven and a first gold of the championships ahead of Canada. The victory – in four minutes 23.407 seconds to the Canadian quartet’s 4mins 24.696secs – so nearly did not happen as Barker’s legs gave up on the final lap, with Trott fearing a collision which would have ended with half the British team sprawled on the track. “At the end Elinor changed down the straight and I hadn’t actually made it back on yet,” said Trott.
“I was shouting because I thought if she turned any quicker she’d take me out and then it’d be game over if I take her down. You get lucky sometimes I guess and that’s what happened.”
Defending champion Jason Kenny had to settle for fifth in the men’s Keirin behind France’s Francois Pervis, while Fabian Puerta of Colombia was roared on to silver. Kenny recognised his bid was over after a collision which saw Germany’s Maximilian Levy fall and robbed him of momentum.