John Archibald takes step into unknown with Eolo-Kometa

John Archibald in action at the 2019 World Championships in Yorkshire.
John Archibald in action at the 2019 World Championships in Yorkshire. (Image credit: Getty)

Time trial and track pursuit specialist John Archibald is "taking a step into the unknown" after signing for the UCI ProTeam Eolo-Kometa for the coming season.

The 30-year-old Scot is a Commonwealth Games silver medallist on the track, and he dominated the UK time trial scene this year while road racing opportunities were limited.

Archibald is now set to step up from Continental racing along with fellow Briton Mark Christian after Sean Yates found him a place on the Italian-registered Eolo-Kometa squad.

"They saw there was an opportunity if they stick me in a time trial in a stage race, a prologue or something like that, there’s a chance that I might do something decent," said Archibald.

"Having had some decent road race results in 2019, there’s an opportunity I might do something good in a road race too. I’m not entirely sure how different it will be or what aspect it will be different, but certainly I’m preparing to be in the best shape I can be. It’s a sink-or-swim scenario really, and I’ll have to hope it’s sustainable, that I can improve and maybe do something unexpected. We’ll wait and see.

"Being the size I am, I’m never going to be a GC climber, my strength is going to be time trialling, breakaways or one day races. We’ll wait and see how I fare in that level of field. Whether I’ll just have a job to do or I'm the type of person to get results, I just don’t know. It’s a stab in the dark at this stage. I’ve just got to get stuck in and do the best I can for the team."

Backed by the Alberto Contador Foundation, the team began at Continental level in in 2018 under the Polartec-Kometa banner, and their sports manager is Ivan Basso.

The roster consists mainly of Italian and Spanish riders and the team are aiming to obtain wildcard spots in WorldTour races after moving up to ProTeam level for the 2021 season.

"We’ve got ambitions to ride WorldTour races. With an Italian sponsor and the names involved, with Alberto Contador, Ivan Basso and Sean Yates, I think they’re likely to get some wildcard opportunities for WorldTour events," said Archibald.

"Whether that’s stage races like Tirreno–Adriatico or maybe even the Giro d’Italia or stand-alone Classics like Strade Bianche, we’ll wait and see, but they’re optimistic so we’ll see how it plays out. I don’t know for sure what races I’ll get to do but, either way, it will be a step up for me."

Time trial

Archibald raced for Continental team Ribble Weldtite in 2019, placing third in the British Championships road race, which was won by Ben Swift. Along with other domestic victories on the road, Archibald also performed well in the Tour of Yorkshire.

"The main thing is having confidence of what you can do in the back end of a race," Archibald said. "I’ve had decent power outputs over set distances but once you bring it into a road race where you’re racing for four or five hours and have got to perform in that last hour, that’s when things start to jade you a little bit.

"Two years ago (2019), that was a tipping point for me, when I realised I could compete in that type of intensity and distance. I was either up there or amongst it and it gave me some confidence."

A national time trial silver medal meant Archibald was selected for the home World Championships in Harrogate, where he took bronze in the time trial mixed relay and 14th in the individual event.

Archibald dominated the domestic time trial scene in Britain this season, taking three national titles over different distances. However, he was left disappointed by missing out on a place in the time trial at the World Championships in Italy.

The powerful athlete says that the international rolling style of time trial courses suit his style more than the flatter events.

"Being on a sporting course on closed roads with bends and technical elements where you are having to vary your power, those honest courses are where I shine," Archibald said. 

"If I get the opportunity to race the professional-level riders at those types of time trials and put myself in the mix then that’s an opportunity really. It was nice to ride the World Championships in Harrogate when I was 14th. I beat a lot of big names but also got beaten by 13 other guys as well.

"It’s nice to put yourself in that bracket and see where you’re at seeing where the top of the spectrum is and thinking how can I get to that level? Hopefully this year I will get a good sense of that."

Archibald is due to fly to Spain for a training camp on Saturday before joining another camp in January ahead of the start of the season. He will remain based in Glasgow in 2021, travelling to races and training camps as required by the team.

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