It’s been a long road back for Shane Archbold.
The Timaru cyclist has battled a nasty injury hangover ever since he broke his pelvis in brutal fashion during the Tour de France in 2016.
“I came back from that probably slightly too quickly with an unadjusted pelvis and then I had the big one, a disc bulge [in my back],” he told Newshub.
The back injury put him out of action for several months, until he eventually got the go-ahead from his specialist to have surgery.
“It wasn’t until May where I got the operation on it which was a pretty simple procedure and then it’s just been about getting back to fitness since then.”
Being off the bike for so long took its toll on the 29-year old, both physically and mentally. It also made it tough to secure another professional contract, with former team Bora–Hansgrohe’s roster full by the time he returned.
Fortunately, an offer wasn’t far away. Irish Pro-Continental team, Aqua Blue Sport, came calling, and he was more than happy to jump on board.
He’s finally 100 per cent injury free, adding about 20-30 minutes onto the end of training every day to work on his core stability and make sure his body’s ticking over.
Now that he’s back in good shape, Archbold’s thrown himself straight into the 2018 season.
He was part of the successful effort at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour earlier this month, where Lasse Norman Hansen took out the team’s first win of the year, and also held the yellow jersey for two days.
It hasn’t taken him long to adjust to a new team. Kiwi Aaron Gate rooms with him, while there’s no language barrier, with the riders all speaking English.
Archbold’s calendar for the rest of the season is largely up in the air, with not much of a plan past March. The team’s status in the cycling world means they have to rely on wildcards for a lot of the races, something that makes their schedule quite flexible.
One date that does stick out is the Commonwealth Games in April. Archbold’s been in touch with the national selectors about representing New Zealand on the Gold Coast, and he’s hoping he can fit it in amongst his team commitments.
“If we don’t have so many races in that period I’ll definitely try to get to the Gold Coast, purely as a road rider. I had good fun in the road race in Glasgow helping Jack [Bauer] get silver, so I’d like to either do the same again or have a crack myself if the situation arises”.
While Gate’s keen to give the road race and the track a go at the Comm Games, Archbold’s ruled out hitting the velodrome, and defending his title in the scratch race.
“Just after the injury and with everything I’ve been through I wanted to get my road career back in line, and that’s the number one goal this year.”
Archbold’s in a familiar role with the team, as one of the key cogs in the sprint train for Englishman Adam Blythe. Being a lead-out rider is something he’s well-accustomed to, after powering Irishman Sam Bennett to three consecutive stage wins in the Tour of Turkey last year.
The promising start to the year from Aqua Blue Sport is a good omen for the rest of the season, with the team hoping their early season performances will see a few more wildcards thrown their way.
That will only be a good thing for Archbold, as he looks to make up for lost time.