Eurosport commentator Carlton Kirby described it as “a spectacular performance from an amazing athlete. Katie Archibald is in charge.”
The athlete herself saw things slightly differently, more a matter of necessity than one reflecting domination.
“There was only one way to go,” she told Eurosport, after another elimination race win in the UCI Track Champions League, her third in a row. “When I saw Kirsten [Wild] on the black line during those last five eliminations, I was just thinking: ‘Imagine how much pain she’s in. You’ve got to go.'”
And off she went, roared on by the home fans, to close out the heads-up in a style not dissimilar to the way she beat Wild in Mallorca last month.
“I was just thinking: ‘Imagine how much pain she’s in. You’ve got to go.'”
“I was glad to have the support,” Archibald added.
Although she was able to extend her lead in the endurance competition, taking it to an almost insurmountable 35 points, the British rider didn’t have it all her own way in London. In the early evening scratch race, Archibald could manage no better than third place, behind veteran Wild and the promising young Portuguese rider, Maria Martins.
It was a cagey 5k, with no real moves made at any point, which meant it all came down to positioning, the final few laps, and the sprint finish. Although at least partly a product of the power Archibald has displayed throughout the competition so far, for the 28 year-old it came down to everyone’s tactics cancelling each other out:
“I’d gone into the race thinking I was going to let somebody else take it on, and I’m going to be a follower as it were. And that’s what we were all doing. We all had the same plan.”
Just as it did in Mallorca, however, defeat only gave Archibald additional motivation for the second race of the evening.
“You need some fire in your belly for an elimination race,” she said. “It goes wrong if you go in relaxed, if you think you’ve got the legs, and that you can do whatever you want. Then you’re in trouble, because you can’t use your legs, when you’re trapped in a box.”
Although there were a few moments when it looked like Archibald was in trouble, each time she was able to locate an escape route, before winding up and riding to a stylish grandstand finish.
“It means a lot to be here and I’m glad to deliver.”
“It was super special [winning in front of a home crowd],” she said. “It’s good but I felt a lot of pressure coming home. I’ve had a lot of really important experiences here, both early on in my career and some big successes. It means a lot to be here and I’m glad to deliver.”
Deliver for the British crowd she definitely did. And this “amazing athlete”, who never seems quite sure that she belongs in the company she keeps, is most definitely in charge of the UCI Track Champions League.