Including layovers, Shane Archbold’s transition from rider to directeur sportif should take about sixteen hours.
After bringing the curtain down on his racing career at the Tour of Guangxi on Tuesday, the New Zealander reports for duty in his new role in Germany on Wednesday evening.
“Tomorrow I’m flying straight from China to Munich for the team meeting, and straight into the new role,” Archbold told Cyclingnews in Guilin after signing on for his final race.
“I’ll get on the flight with the boys as a rider and get off as a DS. It’s going to be a bit strange, but that’s how the team see it. They wanted me to stay calm and stay as a rider until now, and then start into the role.”
Although Archbold’s contract was up for renewal at the end of this year, he wasn’t seriously contemplating retirement until Bora-Hansgrohe manager Ralph Denk suggested he might have a place for him in the team car for 2024.
Still only 34 years of age, and after fighting so hard to return to the top level after his heavy crash at the 2016 Tour de France, Archbold was minded to continue for at least a couple more years if he could find a contract elsewhere.
“It’s the reason I’m retiring. I’m old but I’m not that old, so I probably could have done another couple of years,” said Archbold, who took some time to mull over Denk’s offer. In the end, a bout of COVID-19 in August helped to make up his mind.
“In the beginning it was day on, day off, wanting to continue and not wanting to continue. But then obviously the decision was made for me when I got COVID-19 again in August. There were too many downs and not enough ups, so it was just easier to stop. For sure, I’m going to regret it some days, but I think for the majority, I’m pretty happy with my decision.”
Sam Bennett can vouch for his close friend and long-term teammate’s credentials for his new position as a directeur sportif.
“He always knew what he was doing, so I think he’ll be good at that role,” the Irish sprinter said.
Archbold himself admitted that the career change came as a surprise. Denk, however, was insistent that Archbold, who spent six seasons as a rider on the team, was perfectly suited to a management position.
“For me, it’s a big surprise, and for everyone else, it’s a bigger surprise,” Archbold said.
“I don’t think anyone would have expected it, but Ralph has an idea and it’s something I’m willing to try and see how we go, to try to progress the…