Katie Archibald: Track Cycling World Championships no gauge for GB Olympic hopes

Elinor Barker & Katie Archibald
Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald won madison silver at November's Track Cycling World Cup

Katie Archibald says the Track Cycling World Championships should not be a gauge for Great Britain's cycling prospects at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

GB topped the medal table four years ago in London before replicating their success at the 2016 Olympics.

But they were seventh in Berlin, with Sir Chris Hoy warning that British dominance may be coming to an end.

However, Archibald, 25, who won team pursuit gold at Rio 2016 said: "I would not jump into making comparisons."

Elinor Barker won the team's only gold in Berlin where a return of four medals was their worst in an Olympic year since 2000.

In Britain's favour is that the team are yet to use any of their equipment earmarked for Tokyo - which according to British Cycling's performance director Stephen Park, "will definitely bring us significantly closer".

And while Park stressed the team was "on a journey", Archibald, one of Friday's women's team pursuit silver medallists, suggested that crossing the line from failure to success is still relatively close.

"In the sprint events the margin for error is so small," Archibald told BBC Sport.

"A hundredth, not even a tenth [makes a difference]. Jack Carlin rode a personal best [in the men's sprint] and qualified in 19th. There was just over a tenth of a second between that and fourth place.

"Training and peaking at the right points makes a massive difference. I've seen Jason Kenny take serious beatings when he is in a heavy training block and that's what you have to do. So for them the step up for the Games both physically and in the equipment, I think we do always expect to be as big.

"In endurance events we don't expect it to be quite as drastic - that's where we can take confidence in where we are."

'It was an unfathomably high level'

Six-time Olympic track cycling gold medallist Hoy also suggested the British cycling team may have "plateaued a little bit" while other nations have improved.

Archibald, though, who outlined her hopes to compete in the women's madison on its Olympic debut in Tokyo says the results in Rio provide an "unfathomably high" barometer.

Great Britain won six cycling gold medals at Rio 2016 and ended the Games with 12 medals, six more than their nearest rivals the Netherlands.

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Track Cycling World Championships: Elinor Barker wins GB's first gold in Berlin

"That domination was mine and Elinor's first Games," Archibald added. "We were part of a team and everyone who rode left with a medal. It was an unfathomably high level. If you chuck a ball as high as you can there is a point where it has to start coming down.

"I've met riders before who have said they wanted to be Olympic champion since they were 10 years old, or 'I've wanted to be world champion since I learned to ride a bike' and you think, 'there is something wrong with you in your head'.

"But there is some sort of trait of backing yourself if you get to the highest level. It's such a confusing thing to rationalise in your own mind, to believe that you can be the best and I do believe that we can be the best.

"Laura [Kenny] had a terrible crash in the first round of the omnium. It was such a tough day and she comes off after and says 'you're going to think I'm crazy but I still believe I can win the Olympics, I can still do it' and it's the sentiment that a lot of us carry."

Barker, who won the points race - a non-Olympic discipline - in the German capital to add to her team pursuit silver, added: "It's not a right because we are British that we should be medalling and because we have dominated before that we deserve all these medals.

"Every single medal is hard fought. If we came away with two gold medals those would be triumphs."

'We still believe'

Archibald and Barker combine again in the Six Day Manchester event (13-15 March) where they will take on fellow British duo Neah Evans and Emily Nelson.

However, having already beaten the Netherlands' current world champions Kirsten Wild and Amy Pieters, they are hoping the event gives them another opportunity to impress before Tokyo selections are made.

"Manchester is a chance to practice and get some raw madison experience," Barker said.

"It has only been around for four years so every single chance we get to practice against a high standard we feel is really valuable."

Archibald added: "I don't want to put too much pressure on Elinor but coming away as points race world champion is definitely a very adaptable strength for the madison.

"We have work to do in that event but I still believe in our chances there."

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