Some would be happy with their first podium of the season in World Tour colours, not Shane Archbold.  The Flying Mullet gave a balanced appraisal of his final stage third place finish at the Tour of Slovenia, as he eyes a grand tour start later this year.

 At the end of the Tour of Slovenia, Shane Archbold experienced what he hadn’t since returning to the World Tour peloton for BORA-Hansgrohe; an opportunity to strike for the win himself.  Up until now it’s all been about working for teammates Sam Bennett and (in this case) Pascal Ackermann.  He placed third, being out-kicked for the win by Giacomo Nizzolo of Dimension Data and Luka Mezgec of Mitchelton-SCOTT.

“Honestly, I was very disappointed with how I executed the sprint.  Don’t get me wrong I’m happy with the result, just disappointed with how it panned out.”

Shane Archbold

It was a testing sprint, with a late corner to accelerate out of that saw the Flying Mullet take a wide line and find himself down in fifth position and with work to do if he was to improve his position.  That he did, but the win was just out of reach.  Afterwards Archbold reflected on a performance that revealed that no matter how long you’ve been in the game there’s still space to be educated.

“Honestly, I was very disappointed with how I executed the sprint.  Don’t get me wrong I’m happy with the result, just disappointed with how it panned out.  I believe I had the legs to take my first pro win but it wasn’t to be. Even at this stage in my career it’s still a learning curve,” Shane told RoadCycling.

Archbold returned to World Tour racing with BORA-Hansgrohe at the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey, photo Sirotti

Between the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour of Slovenia, Shane Archbold and BORA-Hansgrohe have taken on sprinters ranging from Nacer Bouhanni to Sonny Colbrelli, Edvald Boasson Hagen to Andre Greipel, Luka Mezgec to Phil Bauhaus, Mark Cavendish to Giacomo Nizzolo with most eyes on who will be tackling the big lap of France.  Le Tour is a goal that’s not on Archbold’s mind for 2019, so we were interested to know what the objective was for Slovenia.

“To be honest I had no goals or aspirations, I was a last minute call up when a rider fell sick and I was at Dauphiné. So the team sent me home a few days early to recover and try and be at an okay level for Slovenia.  I was happy with how it all panned out though that’s for sure,” Archbold said. 

“Now the big focus for the season will be the Vuelta, so I’m currently taking an easier week to refresh the body and mind before I start the training for the rest of the year.”

Shane Archbold

Pascal Ackermann got the tour off to the best possible start for BORA-Hansgrohe with victory in stage 1, the first time Archbold has aided a teammate who has not been Sam Bennett to victory in a bunch sprint.  Ackermann held that lead for just one day as first Luka Mezgec then Diego Ulissi and Giovanni Visconti took stage honours.  The final day saw Ackermann opt not to take to the start, leaving an open vacancy for another sprinter to step up in his stead.  It turned out to be the Kiwi who grabbed the chance afforded him, making it into the large breakaway group that distanced the rest.

“I wasn’t so much given the reins just the opportunity presented itself in the moment and I had to take the bull by the horns and make the most of it. But it felt great to have this opportunity and try make the most of it,” Shane told us.

Shane Archbold placed third in the final stage of the Tour of Slovenia, photo Sirotti

It’s been two years since Shane had such a breadth of World Tour racing to take on.  Last year as part of Aqua Blue Sport just two days of the Kiwi’s 60 days of total racing between January and September were at World Tour level, this year he’s tackled 17 days of World Tour racing in just two months.

In conversation at the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey with Aaron S. Lee, Archbold said that he was slowly finding his way in the World Tour peloton again.  We wanted to know how close he was condition-wise, in relation to the form he carried back in 2016 when he was selected for his first Tour de France.  “Wow, that’s a difficult question, times have changed so much it’s hard to put a number to it. But I do believe I am close to where I was pre-Tour but also a different person and rider.  After this hard, strong block of racing I will come up a level in my next training phase and I believe I will be stronger in the second half of the year than I was back in 2016.”

While we don’t expect to see the Flying Mullet lining up on July 6th it’s the season’s final grand tour of the year that’s got Archbold’s attention, where – all going well – he will line up with Sam Bennett once again.  “Now the big focus for the season will be the Vuelta, so I’m currently taking an easier week to refresh the body and mind before I start the training for the rest of the year. I’ll head to Andorra for some altitude before racing in Ride London, Czech Tour, and the Vuelta.”

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