Sir Chris Hoy says Katie Archibald’s form ‘incredibly impressive’ ahead of Paris

By Sports Desk November 15, 2023

Sir Chris Hoy believes Katie Archibald is on track for next summer’s Paris Olympics after seeing her storm to overall victory in the UCI Track Champions League.

Two-time Olympic champion Archibald admitted she was far from her best at the World Championships in Glasgow in August, when the intense spotlight of a home worlds came as she was still coming to terms with the tragic loss of her partner Rab Wardell 12 months earlier.

But just a few months later, the 29-year-old Scot showed her class to win the Champions League crown for a second time, wrapping up her victory during the final two rounds in London at the weekend.

“It’s incredibly impressive,” Hoy told the PA news agency. “We’re starting to see that spark coming back, the smile, the enjoyment of the racing. Just life coming back into her after what was an incredibly difficult year.

“She wasn’t at her best at the world championships and I think this is a significant step forward from the worlds and it really does bode well for what is a massively important year for her and for the team.

“And they need her. The team really does rely on a few big-name individuals, not to carry the team but to inspire the team.

“When the big names are firing and on form it lifts everyone else, so she’s absolutely central to the British Cycling campaign and it’s looking good.

“I think she’s definitely getting better and getting to where she needs to be.”

The made-for-TV Champions League, which has just completed its third season, sees endurance riders like Archibald compete in two races per round, the scratch race and the elimination.

It is a long way from the team pursuit and the Madison that Archibald will aim for in Paris, and comprises only two of the four elements of the omnium, but it will be a significant confidence booster all the same.

“This is not a direct comparison to those events but it almost doesn’t matter,” added Hoy, who is an ambassador for the Champions League.

“It’s about how she’s responding to the competition and getting inspired by the crowd and just starting to bring back that spark and getting her life back on track after what she’s been through.

“As a rider you want to use the event in the right way. I would want to come in and see it as an opportunity to learn about my rivals, see them in some different situations and try different tactics.

 

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“If it doesn’t work out it’s not the end of the world, you’ve not missed out on a world title or an Olympic medal, but having said that the overall Champions League jersey and trophy is a massive thing now, it’s being recognised.”

 

Although star names like Archibald and Dutch sprinter Harrie Lavreysen drew the crowds, this season saw arguably the weakest field yet contest the Champions League with several riders preferring to focus their training elsewhere as the clock ticks down to Paris.

However, Hoy said he believed the still young series – which aims to elevate the profile of track cycling beyond the Olympics and annual world championships – is developing well.

“I think it’s pretty close to what I hoped it would be,” he said. “I think they’ve delivered exactly what they promised and probably more.

“This year it’s been a challenge with it being an Olympic year but the organisers aren’t trying to hide that, and I think next year there will be a rebound when, post-Olympics, riders are freed of the pressure and stress of an Olympic year and they want to go out and ride their bikes and have fun.”

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