Inaugural Champions League endurance champion Katie Archibald on how she did it, what the title means to her
A fourth elimination victory out of four, in front of a sold-out London crowd, rounded out a dominant performance for Katie Archibald in the inaugural UCI Track Champions League. The British star had a difficult night by her own standards, but never once looked in trouble. Second place in the scratch took her to a total of 145 points, 45 more than Kirsten Wild in second.
Archibald, Lavreysen, Hinze, Hooper celebrate with jazzy trophies
For Katie Archibald, the final round of the inaugural UCI Track Champions League was the toughest of them all. Yet even with her legs screaming for mercy, in front of a rapturous home crowd, she found the strength within them to finish off the competition in style.
"It never felt comfortable,” she said, after being crowned women’s Endurance champion, “but I'm really happy.”
The evening began on an imperfect note for the British star, as a chaotic, uncontrollable scratch race saw Yumi Kajihara of Japan steal a march on the field. Archibald, despite needing to finish no higher than 10th to take the title outright, wasn’t prepared to settle for a substandard performance, and fought through to claim second place from the bunch behind.
“I always knew the scratch races were going to be my sticking point,” she said, “and I feel like I minimised the losses - but that's how you win a series, isn't it? To be the most consistent. It's nice to pull out the big wins, obviously.”
Consistent she was, but consistently the strongest rider in every individual race, as well as overall. Every elimination race, certainly. Despite having a bullseye on her back from the second round in Lithuania onwards, Archibald wore the pressure as well as the mint green Santini skinsuit.
Archibald said she was surprised to find that "it feels a lot more comfortable defending than attacking. It's quite a lot of pressure to lead from the start, but seeing it replicated in the other leagues as well I think there's a strength to having the jersey on the back from the start.”
Archibald makes it four from four in elimination race
Four wins out of four from that event mark Archibald out as the one any Olympic omnium hopeful will have to beat, as all their eyes slowly turn towards Paris 2022.
"I'm so happy with the springboard from the Olympics and everything that carried through from there, I made the call to just keep pushing. It's now time for a rest which is now very conveniently overlapping with Christmas.”
She’s earned a slice or two of indulgence, that’s for sure.
As strong as she was in Mallorca, Lithuania and London, few competitors have also been as outspoken in their support for the Champions League, from concept to execution, as Katie Archibald.
"This title means a big deal,” she said, “but more than [for the victory], for how professional it has been, just how much support we've had, and the amount of amazing feedback I've had. This is year one. Discovery are locked in until 2029 - I just feel so confident that it's going to go from strength to strength. I'm proud to have been backing it from day one.”
UCI Track Champions League winners - Germany's Emma Hinze (Women's Sprint champion), the Netherlands's Harrie Lavreysen (Men's Sprint Champion), the USA's Gavin Hoover (Men's Endurance Champion) & Great Britain's Katie Archibald (Women's Endurance)
Image credit: SWPix
As sad as it was that the competition had to be cut short there was, she said, something fitting about London’s Lee Valley Velodrome playing host to the final round.
"I would have really loved to go to Israel next week. But selfishly, it feels pretty good to do it here in the UK."
The British fans will be looking forward to her title defence in 2022.