Scottish cycling star Katie Archibald was set to decide last night on whether she will defend her individual pursuit title at the European Championships which get under way as part of Glasgow 2018 tomorrow.
Archibald, who also took gold for Scotland in the event at this year’s Commonwealth Games, has fought back from a broken collarbone she suffered soon after the Gold Coast after a crash on the Tour de Yorkshire road race and admits something may have to give in the packed schedule as she returns to compete in her home city.
With the individual pursuit not on the programme for Tokyo 2020 the 24-year-old from Milngavie said it would be the obvious event to drop, despite it being one she has excelled in down the years.
“I’m entered as team pursuit, individual pursuit, omnium and Madison, the priority is the Olympic events so that is the team pursuit, omnium and Madison,” explained Archibald at the Great Britain team hotel in Glasgow yesterday.
“So if something is to take a hit it’s the individual pursuit. At the moment the first question is do I think in current form that I could put down a good result in the individual pursuit or so that I could do myself proud on the individual pursuit, could I perform well? And I’m not currently convinced of that.
“The secondary question to that is am I going well enough to still contend and that is something actually we have to settle on tonight and weigh up the pros and cons of obviously I want to go and defend a title, will it end up holding me back with the run-in to the omnium.”
Archibald will be returning to the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome where she won points race bronze as a 20-year-old at Glasgow 2014 and, despite carrying the war wounds that are par for the course for pro cyclisits, she is fired up to compete in front of a home crowd in an event which marks the start of compiling Olympic qualifying points.
It is a championships Archibald has revelled in, with ten golds in a total of 12 medals accumulated since 2013. She will also defend her omnium title and race the Madison with multiple Olympic champion Laura Kenny, pictured inset, who returns in GB kit for a first major championship since having a baby.
“I see Europeans as quite important, they’re a season opener, it sets you on the course for the coming World Cups and eventually the world championships,” said Archibald, whose brother John is on the GB men’s team.
“It’s just different to most because it arrives in August time and so the preparation that we have done through to this is more road-based, probably more erratic with different race programmes and things, people in their road teams.
“I guess it’s hard to say that that falls in favour of any one nation, I don’t think it does. But certainly I think it has changed the dynamic for us with team pursuiting, you know we’ve not come in with the same couple of months prep that maybe we would have in an October event and I think that maybe the home event, home crowd and a Great Britain track will sort of flip that for us.”
The switch from Commonwealth Games not only sees a change back to the Great Britain kit, but also a change in focus in terms of the competition she’ll be up against.
“For team pursuit the best nations in the world are the Americans, the Australians, the Canadians, the Kiwis – so they’re not obviously here – and the Italians,” she explained.
“On the podium at the world championships was the Americans, ourselves and the Italians. So yeah there definitely is a different dynamic for that.
“But for the bunch racing it’s the Dutch, the Belgians and the Italians that I would say the biggest focus goes on and obviously, in fact even probably the Danish and Polish as well of that elite core of probably any one of those nations could win gold in these events.
“The timed events fall into a kind of American stronghold but I think we are against the best in the world for one half of the competition certainly.”