Shane Archbold is back in the World Tour.  13 months after he lined up for his last World Tour race the Flying Mullet will return to the highest level at the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey.  Archbold has returned to BORA-Hansgrohe, joining a team that includes friend and sprint sensation Sam Bennett and 3-time world champion Peter Sagan.

30 year old Shane Archbold has been through a roller coaster ride since 20th July 2016.  That was the day he crashed in stage 17 of the Tour de France.  The injuries sustained there and the aftermath of trying to recover from them would ruin his 2017 season and cost him a World Tour contract for 2018.  In 2017 he enjoyed just 16 race days across six races, and by the year’s end he was on the hunt for a new contract.

Aqua Blue Sport stepped in and in 2018 Archbold fought for his career, picking up five top ten results throughout the season including 6th place at the Commonwealth Games; but then disaster struck as the team folded in dramatic circumstances.  Archbold’s last race was on 24th August.  An anxious wait followed for Archbold and Aqua Blue Sport teammate Aaron Gate until EvoPro Racing stepped in and provided the duo along with many others with a lifeline to continue racing in 2019.

Shane Archbold’s time with Aqua Blue Sport was cut short after the team folded, photo Karen M. Edwards

Archbold has already picked up two podium results in 2019 at the New Zealand Cycle Classic, as well as a number of strong performances in working for his EvoPro teammates – particularly Wouter Wippert – and his form has not gone unnoticed by his former World Tour home.

Team Manager for BORA-Hansgrohe, Ralph Denk, shared more about the decision to bring one of New Zealand’s favourite sons back to the highest level of racing.  “With Sagan, Bennett and Ackermann we have three fast men, however, we felt that we needed to strengthen the team’s lead-out train and capacity to optimally prepare for fast finishes.  Shane was already part of the team from 2015 to 2017, and we have great faith in his abilities,” Denk said.

Shane Archbold (second from right) enjoyed a lifeline from EvoPro Racing which has yielded success and now a return to the World Tour, photo Marion Wright/RoadCycling.co.nz

“After his serious crash at the 2016 Tour de France, he experienced health problems, which rendered him unable to continue competing on the World Tour.  It was for that reason that we did not extend his contract.  However, I assured him that if there was ever a chance for him to return to the team, then the door would always remain open.  Now he is fit again, motivated, and ready to grasp this new challenge with both hands, and it is an opportunity that we are very excited to be able to give him.”

For Archbold the resurrection of his World Tour career is an opportunity that he’s not taking lightly, and is profoundly grateful for.  “This is incredible!  I am so thankful to have received this great opportunity.  The World Tour will definitely be a challenge, but for me there is no better team with which to take on this challenge than BORA-Hansgrohe.  We have a common history and I also have many friends within the team.  I just hope to be ready to show everyone that I deserve this opportunity,” Shane said.

Archbold’s first race back at World Tour level, the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey, kicks off on 16th April.

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