Last weekend the Scottish race calendar kicked off in style, with the Gifford Road Race. The first of the major Scottish road events, Ribble Pro Cycling were keen to put on a good show, especially with our resident Scotsman, John Archibald always looking to impress a home crowd...which I think it's fair to say he did!
The team rode well and John put to use the world-class numbers he'd been showing at the team's training camp in Calpe, securing a solo victory in horrendous conditions. The team also took 2nd place with Will 'Ronnie' Corbett, 5th (Will Brown), 6th (Jack Rees) and 7th (Alex Luhrs). It's fair to say the team raced from the front and the Santini reef jerseys did a great job keeping the riders warm enough to deliver the results! We caught up with John after the race to get his thoughts on how it all went.
So John when you got up this morning and saw heavy rain, what went through your mind?
I've always liked the Gifford Race and the bad weather certainly doesn't put me off. The 105km route is testing enough to force moves, but not brutal enough to force abandons... until you throw 2 degrees and rain into the mix. Being a true Scotsman though I fully believe in the saying 'there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing' so I made sure I was well wrapped up! Personally, I was looking for a good dose of training load before heading to Gold Coast in 2 weeks. A 2.5 hour road race is something I can't replicate on my turbo, so I was looking forward to it regardless of the weather.
You mention the kit, and we've seen a few references to Robocop....
Hahaha, I'm a fan of the Vanquish helmet, my preference being with a visor for maximum visibility. The aesthetics seem to be debated, but it also provides the perfect "poker face" when the hurt is on. It's faster than other helmets, kept me warm and I do like Robocop after all!
So talk us through the race, what went on?
The race followed a typical Scottish format of stinging attacks going off the front and the concertinaed whiplash of riders drag it back. I could see Will Corbett, Will Brown and Alex Luhrs prominent in the early moves and this gave me a full lap in the wheels to gradually move my way up.
It was in the 2nd lap of 8, as we descended into Gifford, that I got away. More of a soft tap off the front, I think the field had realised they couldn't chase every move all day. A 2-up TT with Dylan Hughes followed, until Will Corbett sweetly bridged across to us with just under half the race remaining. Our gap on the chasing breakaway then grew from 30 to 90 seconds and it seemed clear we would hold it all the way. Meanwhile, Jack Rees, Richard Jones and the aforementioned 3 Ribble team mates were still ready to jump on any threatening moves in the following group should the need arise.
Having been communicating with Will throughout the race, he put in a few lengthy spells before we hit the downhill section leading into a tailwind. Here I made my move and escaped for victory. Will made his move with just over 1km to go and put Dylan into 3rd place.
Sounds like it played out perfectly, especially with the team taking the front places in the bunch kick behind. What do you do to make sure you're well fuelled for long solo moves like you do?
Having ridden the race at around 350w, there was a lot of energy expended and it was vital to keep eating. Having eaten 5 gels within the distance, I do consider myself a bit of a gel monger, so kudos to secret training for making them palatable! Everyone is struggling to grab nutrition out their back pocket with frozen hands and then dribbling them down their face with lips that won't move properly, but it all makes a great picture for reports like this. Other than that I just make sure I eat well beforehand, the team enjoy joking around a bit how I've got to have my porridge before, got to embrace the stereotypes.
So what's next for you?
Well I'm obviously looking forward to the Commonwealth games and the track and road events there. More training, more racing and more results to report upon hopefully in the future!
Thanks John for taking the time to chat after the race and give us this run down. We'll make sure to keep you up to date with how things go in Australia for all our riders, with us having multiple representatives there. Finally a big thanks to all the organisers of the Gifford Road Race and to Ian Henderson for his photos to show quite how cold and wet it was.