UCI Track Champions League 2021 - 'It definitely doesn't feel easy' - Katie Archibald on 'scary' scratch race
Katie Archibald may have dominated proceedings on the second night of racing in the UCI Track Champions league, but the GB star was at pains to say that, from her point of view, it was far from plain sailing. Twice Archibald came close to getting knocked out of the elimination, before going on to win. "I really struggled in the start of that race,” she said afterwards.
‘Got it absolutely right!’ – Archibald makes amends for Mallorca with scratch race win
Despite claiming convincing victories and taking maximum points from second evening’s racing in the UCI Track Champions League 2021, Katie Archibald was quick to provide assurances that it was nowhere near as straightforward as it might have seemed to spectators.
"It definitely doesn't feel easy,” she said afterwards, of her dominant-looking performances.
In the opening round Archibald won the elimination race, but finished fourth in the scratch. All the same, she says:
I had some really nice breathing space in Mallorca. I didn't win all the races but I felt really comfortable in my body.
The current omnium world champion was more visible in the early laps of Saturday’s elimination than she was in Velòdrom Illes Balears de Palma, typically an indication of a rider in difficulty. Twice she came close to being knocked out, only managing to stay in the race at the last moment.
‘On another level!’ – Archibald doubles up to cement lead at top of standings
Archibald admits that she could not precisely put her finger on why that was:
“I'm going to be interested to see the power and speed differences because for me, physically, it just felt like 'go!' You go hard for 10 laps and you think it cannot last, but it did. And it just kept going and going.
I need to figure out: is it me, or is it the track? I really struggled in the start of that race.
Absent the apparent ability to fire on all physiological cylinders, Archibald realised she would have to make up for it with racing smarts. With the field reduced to the final selection of riders, she began targeting her closest rival in the endurance category.
Great Britain's Katie Archibald wins the women's Elimination (Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com)
Image credit: Other Agency
I went in solely looking for Maggie [Coles-Lyster] who's the other contender for the main overall right now.
"She's been very, very strong so far. She was sat at the front for so long that I thought the only way for it was that I'm going to have to get to the front - and see if she gets trapped in that box."
Archibald began marking the Canadian, before making a concerted effort to trap her rival at the bottom of the track, where it would be hardest for her to find an escape route.
"It didn't work first time,” she says. “It didn't work second time. I could then see that she had gone all the way around, so I just came in but that didn't work either. So we get down to the final four and I'm like "Okay, there's a bit of room here", and I decided to focus. It was seriously hard, especially when she was coming under in the last minute, she had the run into the rider in front and I'm just like - "let's go!". [Knocking the Canadian out] was satisfying.”
When Archibald spoke to Eurosport on Monday, she shared that she had been weighing up whether or not to take a few more risks in Lithuania, partly so as to avoid the need to make them in London, in front of home fans, as well as her own family.
Which side of the fence the rider had come down on became apparent in the laps of the opening scratch race, when she launched an aggressive, audacious solo move off the front of the field.
“I was racing in Copenhagen last week and I practised some things,” she explained afterwards. “So when I practised going for the lap, I hated it, and I really didn't want to do it. I tried to force myself, but I have not got the strength to go there myself.
I think I need to work out being with the right people and choosing the right moment. From then, I was trying to reset. It was quite scary at the end because there were so many attacks going in.
If two wins out of two is what it looks like when she is struggling, heaven help the other endurance riders in London next week.
Archibald now leads the overall endurance standings by 13 points over Maggie Coles-Lyster. The series concludes in Tel Aviv on December 11th.