Shane Archbold has been on a long road to recovery after a back injury sustained in the Tour de France 2016 ruled him out of complete race fitness for several months. Here Shane sits down to talk to RoadCycling about where he’s at, what he’s looking for now and what the future could hold.
RC: First of all can you tell us exactly what happened to your back and why it’s taken three relapses and finally an operation to come right?
Shane: In the final days of 2016 I woke from bed one day not being able to walk and after a week or so of fighting the pain I finally got an MRI which showed I had a disc extrusion in my back or a prolapse it’s also called. I took the usual treatments to fix such an injury and after 4 weeks of lying on the couch I finally was able to fly back to Europe and really start my rehab. Thankfully this was a good excuse after 12 years of flying to Europe I finally made business class as at this time I couldn’t be seated for longer than 15 mins. One of few positives.
On arrival to Europe I went to a German hospital for 2 weeks of rehab and it seemed to go well, but long story short I was 3 steps forward 2 back for 3 months before I finally had another MRI and it was obvious the extrusion sitting on the nerve which was causing the leg pain was not getting less.
Finally the professionals agreed I was at last resort and was back to the same German hospital for the surgery. During the surgery the extrusion was removed successfully and after another 3 weeks of rehab I’m finally back in Girona to start the hard work again. Obviously I have a lot of hard word in front of me, strengthening the back and getting back to fitness. Baby steps baby steps.
RC: How much of the last 24+ weeks have been spent in Girona vs in New Zealand recovering?
Shane: 5 weeks in NZ , 6 weeks in Hamburg in two stints, and the rest in Girona in-between times.
RC: How far away are you from full race fitness?
Shane: Well it’s been 11 months since I raced seriously, and my biggest ride this year has been 4.5hrs and of the last six weeks I have ridden twice, and that being the last 2 days…… So keeping that in mind I have no idea, the last time I took more than 4 weeks off all exercise was when I first began to crawl as a toddler. So how the body is effected after 6 months time will tell.
So I have to learn to crawl again before I can sprint.
RC: Have you got a target race to return to?
Shane: No idea, I just want to race my bike again professionally, and feel good doing it. I couldn’t care less where that is, but ideally it will be this season.
RC: You’re in the second year of your 2 year contract and usually we hear nervous mutterings about the future when people’s contracts are winding up. With no racing under your belt yet this year is that something that’s been weighing on you at all, and can you give us any indication of what your future holds?
Shane: One day at a time, I have always lived that way. When I first signed a one year contract I was more than excited to get the chance and make the most of it. If I wasn’t good enough I would’ve happily walked away and on to the next challenge. Thankfully that first year went well and I got to start in my eyes the second biggest race I could possibly do in Paris-Roubaix. I was lucky enough to be offered another 2 year contract where the first year I got to start in the sport’s and maybe the world’s biggest/hardest event in Le tour. I’m thankful for the team in giving me these opportunities and have loved the life as a professional for 3 years.
Obviously my contract does run out this year and in not racing seriously for 11 months it’s going to be hard to get a contract in a very competitive market. I can only hope my current team manager or another team manager can see the injury is behind me and see what I have to offer any team going forward.
If this doesn’t happen I’ll be on to the next challenge, which will for sure be on two wheels but what that is time will tell.
RC: How important would it be for you to get a start in the Vuelta or do you have other goals for these final few months of your contract?
Shane: I think with the Vuelta being only 8 weeks it would be very difficult move to line up there and probably not the best for my body/career. All going well I would like to line up in some shorter stage races. A dream would be to pull on the silver fern for the first time at the world road championships but with the way all the kiwis are currently going this would also be very difficult.