Britain’s Katie Archibald is among the big-name athletes in action at the Track Champions League finale this weekend in London with a doubleheader at the 2012 Olympic velodrome on Friday and Saturday set to decide the overall series winners.
Archibald leads the women’s endurance competition after last weekend’s third round in Paris, at the Vélodrome National de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, that will host the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Archibald, who speaks very openly about her own anxiety and self-doubt, felt the experience was “overwhelming” which perhaps led to her “losing her head” in the scratch race and doubting her own abilities before cleaning up a third elimination race victory from three in Paris.
“I was really excited [for Paris] and the rational version of myself thought it was such a good opportunity,” Archibald said ahead of the finale.
“I said so in countless interviews about how we can be really deliberate with our practice here and what an advantage is to have exposure to the Olympic track.
“Then when I got there, and I don’t know. Maybe it felt overwhelming or maybe I just didn’t sleep enough, but I found it oddly stressful and it’s put a bit of a mental block in my mind.”
Ever modest, Archibald was still brilliant in Paris and has been throughout the 2023 league, dominating the Elimination Race in different situations and finishing highly in the Scratch Races despite not winning them.
She heads into the final two rounds of competition with a 12-point lead over Anita Yvonne Stenberg and has looked unbeatable in the Elimination.
The former multiple-time Olympic and World Champion appreciates the exposure to high-level racing provided at the Track Champions League, knowing she can make mistakes and use them going into preparation for Paris 2024.
“One of the most important parts is that stress exposure, and learning to manage the cognitive load that comes with this series, of being on press conferences every week and reflecting on your performances on a public stage rather than a private stage,” said Archibald.
“The race exposure is the most important part and trying to be grateful for the mistakes that you make knowing that that’s something to learn from.”
This is the Champions League’s third season with Archibald ever-present. She won the overall women’s endurance crown in 2021 and backed that up with second in 2022.
The Track Champions League has filled a gap in the early winter track racing calendar…