Scotland’s Katie Archibald faces an interesting dilemma in the run-in to next year’s world championships after being Great Britain’s stand-out star of the Manchester World Cup, adding gold medals in the Madison and team pursuit to her silver of Friday night in the omnium, where she is the reigning world champion.
With the Madison now an Olympic event, and the omnium format changed to make it more attractive for endurance riders – as well as for the crowds – the issue for Archibald will be whether to go for all three events in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, at the end of February.
“The definite ambition is anything that is an Olympic medal, so we want to be good at team pursuit, Madison and omnium,” said the 23-year-old from Milngavie. “I always assume that you aim for the best even for all three but I understand that there may be a compromise at some point in one of them.”
On Sunday Archibald with her fellow Olympic champion Elinor Barker and the newcomers Emily Nelson and Neah Evans - the 27-year-old is also a Scot, a former hill runner who has only joined Great Britain this season – gave Great Britain their third gold medal of the weekend, dominating the Italian quartet in a rapid 4min 16.803, their fastest time since Rio.
The winning margin of almost 5sec was impressive, so too the fact that the line-up had been reshuffled for the morning’s second round, with Manon Lloyd and Emily Kay replacing Archibald and Barker, who had every right to require a rest after their gold medal in the Madison the previous evening.
“Myself and Elinor had never ridden with Neah before,” Archibald said. “ It was an unknown. There’s a lot more to come. The big contrast between this Olympic cycle and the last has been the technical skill of the young riders. We’ve got this really wide bank of really skilled riders, Neah is probably the exception to that in terms of proving her speed in bunch races and putting it into the speciality of team pursuit.”
Strength in depth should stand Great Britain in good stead in the run-in to next spring’s world championships in the Netherlands, when a better idea of the hierarchy post-Rio will emerge with the other English-speaking nations – Australia, Canada and the US – likely to provide much stiffer competition. But the conundrum Archibald may face is definitely a healthy one.
The men’s endurance side continues to blossom, with Saturday night’s 3min 55sec ride by Ed Clancy, Stephen Burke, Oliver Wood and Kian Emadi more than promising and the emergence of the national champions, Team KGF, clearly shaking the tree, something the Great Britain performance director, Stephen Park, welcomed, for one.
No contender as obvious as Archibald has emerged for the Madison and omnium and it remains to be seen whether stars of the road such as Mark Cavendish put their hats in the ring as Tokyo approaches. In Sunday’s closing Madison, Mark Stewart and Chris Latham rode bravely but were ultimately outgunned in sixth place.
In other events Callum Skinner was not far off breaking the magic one-minute barrier for the kilometre time trial en route to a bronze medal that looks promising with the Commonwealth Games on the horizon. He was, however, unable to get close to the stand-out sprinter of this autumn, the Australian Michael Glaetzer, who became the first man to break the minute at sea-level for the four laps, and who could well emerge as a star in the Gold Coast in April.
With Jason Kenny still to return in the new year and Jack Carlin, Ryan Owens and Joe Truman showing promising form here, there are clearly reserves among Britain’s male sprinters, although the women’s sprint events – where Great Britain did manage a medal over the weekend – look set to prove more of a headache.