Shane Archbold is about to become the twelfth Kiwi to line up for the event known as the biggest annual sporting event in the world. RoadCycling caught up with the Bora-Argon 18 rider as he looks towards the start line in Mont Saint-Michel.
RC: What are your emotions now that Tour selection has been confirmed?
Shane: To be honest with the team being named less than 24hrs ago I haven’t had a chance to feel many emotions. It has amazed me how much attention it has raised back in New Zealand that is for sure. I’m definitely excited for the adventure ahead but I know it’s going to be nothing but hard work.
RC: The Dauphine was obviously a significant proving ground for you in the Alps. Has a great deal changed this year for you as a bike rider that has enabled you to hold your own in the high mountains?
Shane: I wouldn’t say I’m holding my own in the high mountains I have just had this ability to suffer since i was kid. I have adapted from the track days of suffering from 4 mins to 50 mins. Now on the road I can suffer for 4-6hrs and wake up the next day and do the same all over again.
RC: I understand that when you made the transition from track to road the Tour wasn’t your major objective. What was the objective and why did the Tour become more of a focus?
Shane: My objective has been for the past 18 months and continues to be just to keep growing as a rider and make improvements in all aspects of road racing. I heard a rumour 2 months ago that the tour was a possibility for me so I took that opportunity with both hands and worked really hard to try and improve my threshold so I was able to hang on over the mountains. I hope i have made enough improvements so I can survive one of the hardest sporting events in the world.
RC: You’ve proven yourself as one of NZ’s great track riders and now you’re becoming just the twelfth kiwi to race the Tour. How does this compare to things like your Commonwealth title?
Shane: I guess its just another feather in my hat as I continue my progression. My Commonwealth title will always be special to me, but if I was to finish the lap of France I would be equally excited but they will never compare.
RC: For Kiwis who perhaps aren’t familiar with the team dynamic that is so strong in cycling, can you explain your role over the three weeks and what success for you personally would look like.
Shane: Success for me personally would look very weird to the general public, the greatest thing that could happen to me in July would be to see my Irish teammate Sam Bennett win one of the 21 stages throughout the Tour. And my job is to solely look after him to make sure he is able to do this. This means collecting bottles, food and clothes when he requires it. But my main job is to protect him on the sprint stages and perfect protection would look like me dropping him off with 250m to go to the line with clean road in front of him so he can do his thing and show the world how fast he really is.
The Tour de France begins on 2nd July in Mont Saint Michel and will finish on 24th July on the Champs Élysées in Paris.