Cycling Southland Matt Archibald reports on his international debut, riding for BikeNZ at the Beijing UCI World Cup last week
After some PB’s and fast times at Oceania’s I was lucky enough to be selected to ride at this year’s Beijing World Cup in the individual sprint and team sprint with Eddie and Simon. Eddie and I got some really good training done through Christmas and new years, so I was looking forward to some fast times in the pre-Beijing camp (new year’s day) to give me some confidence heading to my first world cup. Unfortunately I picked up a bug and was unable to train for the best part of a week before our departure. My health slowly came right and I was able to get a couple of good sessions in before we jumped on the plane.
On the 7th of January we loaded up approximately 40 bike boxes and headed to Auckland before flying 13 hours direct to Beijing. On arrival we were greeted with a hazy day and -5 degree temperatures. Luckily all our bikes arrived. We then travelled about an hour in heavy traffic to the Velodrome and hotel with at least a dozen near collisions. I was on edge the whole way, but our driver didn’t seem in the least bit worried.
We arrived at our hotel and were given the run down and what not to eat/drink to give us the best chance of staying healthy. This meant we were only to drink bottled water and eat cooked food. This wasn’t too bad to start with but after a week of noodles, rice and a lot of random types of stir-fried meat/vegies we were all looking forward to some fresh food.
It was awesome to arrive at the Velodrome and see the track in person that I had watched the Olympics on. The track and facility were really impressive – the track itself is very similar to Invercargill only with slightly higher bankings. The center of the track is sunken in and has under floor heating so the track temperature stays at around 20-25 degrees. On this day we were also able to go into town and visit the markets, which sell anything you can imagine for whatever price you were able to negotiate.
We finally got on the track and after a few days traveling and resting I felt as if I was 100% again. A couple of quality sessions and some promising times I was feeling confident I was in good shape. On race day I was fizzing to get out and race. I found it difficult to keep my focus with all the big guns racing and a slightly different shaped track. In the heats I was a bit tentative out of the gates but managed to get out cleanly and post a respectable time. Eddie and Simon were on fire after only arriving the previous day. They flew through in 13.1 and 13.3 respectively. This put us in 3rd place and in the final for the bronze medal. In the evening we were back ready for the final, after having one race under my belt I felt a lot more relaxed going into the final and was able to go faster than the morning session. Eddie and Simon again produced some fast times and we were able to hold off the Venezuelan team by just over a tenth of a second to secure the bronze medal.
Two days later I was up again this time in the individual sprint. This is not my preferred event at that level but I was pumped to try and post a PB and make the top 16. In this event there were 57 entries with only 16 going through to the first round. I rode well making a small error in the second corner which would have cost me a tenth of a second but still managed to do a 10.44 (a new PB) which put me in 24th place. I was a little bit disappointed with my mistake but over all stoked to ride a PB and win a bronze medal in my first world cup.
Thank you to all my supporters especially the ILT Foundation, Invercargill Licensing Trust, Community Trust of Southland, Wensleys Cycles, Southland Academy of Sport and Cycling Southland who have made it easy to focus on training, racing and traveling.
MATT, EDDIE & SIMON WIN WORLD CUP BRONZE IN BEIJING