Cycling: Perseverance key for Shane Archbold in his latest comeback

Shane Archbold in action.
Shane Archbold in action. Photo credit: Photosport

During cyclist Shane Archbold's darkest days, one thought kept him going. 

"The fact that I had no qualifications or a job to go back to," he told Newshub with a laugh. 

Archbold's latest comeback is laced with tenacity, the same way a cockroach refuses to back down no matter how many times it’s battered by a sneaker. 

After a torrid run of injuries, the collapse of his former team, and a brief stint with EvoPro Racing, the Kiwi is finally back on the World Tour. 

The 30-year old has re-joined German outfit Bora–Hansgrohe until the end of the season, brought in to provide some firepower in the lead-out train for gifted sprinters Peter Sagan, Sam Bennett and Pascal Ackermann. 

"Yeah it's definitely a good feeling, I didn’t quite give up hope but it was starting to get unrealistic."

It's a blast from the past for the man dubbed 'The Flying Mullet', after he was part of the team from 2015 to 2017. 

His flourishing partnership with Bennett was curtailed following a brutal crash at the Tour de France in 2016, where he broke his pelvis in a high-speed descent.

While he incredibly rode on to complete the stage, a bulged disc in his back soon knocked him off his feet. 

Bora decided against extending his contract due to his injury troubles, and he was left in limbo. Irish team Aqua Blue Sport came to the rescue, where he achieved four Top Ten results, as well as finishing sixth at last year’s Commonwealth Games. 

Archbold's stability didn’t last long, with his journey taking another jagged corner. Aqua Blue suddenly folded, once again leaving him without a job, and wondering if it was the end. 

"Cycling's an unreliable career choice to take so it’s never easy. Perseverance has definitely been a big part of my life the last few years."

He went on to join EvoPro alongside New Zealand team-mate Aaron Gate, before Bora gave him the call he’d always hoped would come.  

"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," explained team manager Ralph Denk. 

For Archbold, returning to his old stomping ground is an easy transition to make. 

"It would be hard to change mid-year to a team I had no contacts in. I know if I need something who to contact, rather than annoying the same person over and over again with different questions."

He's being thrown straight back into the heart of the peloton, linking up with Bennett in the Tour of Turkey on Tuesday night (NZT). 

Now that he’s back, he’s determined to make up for lost time. 

"The thought of going to reality into the real word was quite daunting so I had to persevere with the situation. 

"I definitely did think multiple times about throwing it in and finding something else to do but I've got a lot of unfinished goals and ambitions in cycling so I didn’t want to throw it away that quick."

Archbold piloted Bennett to four stage wins during the 2017 Tour of Turkey, and it’s likely he'll be the Irishman's right hand man for the rest of the season. The pair have ridden 44 races together, clocking up 123 race days on roads all over the world. 

As Archbold doesn't have a fixed program with the team yet, he could also be called in to help out three-time world champion Sagan, and Ackermann. 

He's feeling good once again, although he’s cautiously adjusting his “temperamental” body to the new equipment and set-up with the team. 

The Timaru product is well aware he’s still fighting for his job, despite reaching the top echelon of cycling once again. 

"It's only [the deal] until the end of this year, so the same situation will arise in a few months' time, looking for another job, but hopefully I can keep the people happy at Bora.”

Just like his sprawling ginger locks, it’s hard to keep Archbold contained for long.