Interview: John Archibald (Eolo-Kometa)

VeloUK chatted last week to John Archibald of pro conti team Eolo-Kometa about being stuck in Scotland whilst his team trained in Spain.

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Interview: John Archibald (Eolo-Kometa)
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VeloUK chatted last week to John Archibald of pro conti team Eolo-Kometa about being stuck in Scotland whilst his team trained in Spain. John is not alone with half a dozen or so British pro bike riders (and those form other countries like Roglic) all unable to travel abroad due to the Covid travel restrictions.

‘Chrono Man’ John Archibald. Getty Images

Since Spain denied access to all UK citizens in December, John has been stuck in Glasgow and training hard so he is ready for his first race which is scheduled shortly providing he can travel to the event. He’s missed the second training camp but was pleased with how the first one went.

“I was lucky enough to get to Spain in early December for the first training camp when all we had to do was provide a negative PCR result and we were allowed to fly. So I did that and went to Spain and met the team. Unfortunately, I have missed the second training camp and with the racing beginning in February, it’s a tight turn around to see if we will be able to fly out and race”.

Asked was it intimidating for a rider who has very quickly adapted to the road to be at a twelve day training camp with legends like Ivan Basso, Alberto Contador and Sean Yates, John replied “It was not as intimidating as I thought. I worked well and they seemed quite pleased with the training performances.”

“The way the team is set up is very professional and it was a really nice and comforting experience especially the fact that while it comprises of most Italian and Spanish riders, and the only other British people were Sean Yates and Mark Christian, the team were very friendly and accommodating.”

John explained that the team know him as ‘Chrono man’. “They know my speciality is the time trial and see me as bit different so when it came to some of the road efforts we were doing, they were pleasantly surprised I could still climb a hill half decently and hopefully will do some good things in a road race.”

“There is some good experience in the team with riders who have ridden WorldTour races and had good results. I am coming into the team as one of the older riders with some top level experience in time trials (Worlds) and track races too so not in the same events as the team’s other older riders who have experience in long stage races and one day classics so it is unknown what I can bring to the table in them.”

“One of the things I need to work on is the length of the races and the technical aspect of riding in a very accomplished peloton of riders and holding position and those sort of things. There are some early races planned for me in February which will give me realistic idea of what I am capable of and Sean is mentoring us really well and that is what we want”.

Asked how the first camp, in early December was, John replied “there was some serious riding. There are two coaches on the team and we were doing intervals each day, there was some lactate testing efforts, turbo training efforts, and skin fold testing and so it wasn’t a roll around for four hours”

A lot different to his usual training environment in Scotland then? “I have kind of resigned myself to training indoors and it’s not something that I struggle with although I know a lot of people will. I’d rather be in the sun riding on the road but I can get by riding indoors on the turbo. Since Xmas Eve, I have done one or two rides outdoors so that side of it has been pretty limited. I have still got a lot of quality work done and am feeling fit. I know from years prior, I have done a lot of this stuff and it’s paid dividends and it’s never been an issue so it’s more about keeping a mental focus and motivation and in my scenario, I have all the motivation in the world.”

The aim for John is to do a stage race in Spain in early February but his riding it all hinges on if he can get permission to travel to it. “I have a rough idea of the calendar, and they have said ‘any race with a time trial, we want you in it’ so I have quite a lot of stage races on the cards. The team is hoping they get wild card entries into events like Tirreno Adricato and Giro but we have to see what goes ahead as I’m seeing events being postponed.”

Heading up his team are two legends of the pro peloton, Ivan Basso and Alberto Contador so I asked how it was for him meeting them? “It was quite a surreal experience” John replied. “Basso was there a lot of the days and was very approachable and he spent a lot of time talking to people and speaks good English when talking to us. Contador too was very motivated to motivate us and they compliment each other well”.

Finally, I put it to John that his pathway to a proconti team has been quite a short one as it wasn’t long ago we were talking about how John was looking to get acquainted with the Premier Calendar races on the road. “It’s been a great journey to be on and progressing every year which is all I can ask for really. This is a great opportunity” … We wish John lots of luck, and patience in getting stuck into some racing when he’s allowed to travel …

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