New Zealand's Shane Archbold is watched closely by his coach as he heads towards gold in the men's omnium.
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Tearaway New Zealander shows his hand at World Cup
New Zealand's Shane Archbold provided one of the highlights of competition on night two of the UCI Track World Cup Classics in Melbourne with a win in the omnium and put himself into the picture for Olympic selection in just under two years' time.
A consistent performance against a solid field that included omnium world champion Ed Clancy of Great Britain paid dividends with overall victory in the event and Archbold acknowledged as such afterwards. "Consistency is the key to the omnium - I was never out of the top five and I won one event. The competition was tough but the consistency paid off," he said.
With so many events within the omnium, technical aspects of the racing such as gear selection are crucial and Archbold could maintain his consistency thanks to appropriate gear ratios that allowed him to remain fresh.
"The omnium's obviously all about looking after yourself - you can't push big gears for all the events otherwise you blow your legs for the scratch race and kilo. It's all about consistency.
"My gears weren't the smallest out there and they weren't the biggest... It's just the way I approached it. I never had too much knowledge [of the omnium] but it obviously worked, so I'll be sticking with them," he explained.
Archbold said there would be "A very big rethink" after his win, adding that "Obviously the Olympics is an outside chance for me and now that I've proved myself in the omnium I go onto Cali in two weeks so hopefully I can hold onto some form there and put a few more points into [Olympic] qualifying.
"There are a lot of New Zealanders who are good at the omnium event and I've never really been one of them - I've never placed in the medals at a nationals champs in the omnium," continued Archbold. "Now that they've had a restructure and a change the events are longer and have a focus that suits me. The coaches will see that now and look at me for the omnium."
Archbold admitted he felt "very nervous" heading into the omnium's final event, the 1km time trial, adding, "I should back myself heading into an event like that. I got fifth again, which was a new PB for me in the time trial, so that was good, although you never count your chickens before they hatch."
The 21-year-old from Timaru is maintaining a focus on the short term, however, with talk of Olympic selection a long way off. "It's definitely a big process - I've had a big season training and racing on the road. I've had three new PBs this week and in Cali in two weeks I'd love to do that again. The Olympics are still 18 months away," he said.
Archbold explained that road riding is crucial to his preparation for an event like the omnium; while New Zeland is focused on developing its track riders, there's gradual progress on the nation's road stocks. "In terms of our sponsors, they're very track-focused, but the road program is actually a bunch of road riders that our country helped develop via the road; for an event like the omnium you need to have a road backing.
"New Zealand supports that and next year we're going to have a very good under 23 program and we'll be tackling a lot of races in Europe. As a last-year under 23 I'm going to try and get a big result to move onto a bigger contract for next year ," he said.
And his characteristic hairstyle - known as a 'mullet' - was the product of a bet with one of New Zealand's best cycling exports. "It was a joke three years ago - a bet with a well-known cyclist in New Zealand [Hayden Roulston - ed] and I was one of the younger faces in the crowd. He told me to grow a mullet as it was worth a decent sum of money. I haven't quite been paid out yet [on the bet] - so maybe he might read this and remind him!"
"It gets a bit of a pain in the butt; I keep having to fold it up and it gives the team soigneur another job before every timed event. Normally I don't like to hide it behind the helmet but today I thought it was quite necessary going into the pursuit. I won the pursuit by three seconds, so... how much is it worth? You don't know."
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