THE rise of John Archibald has been nothing short of meteoric.

For a man who, just a few years ago, was such a novice to track cycling that he freely admitted himself that he could barely stay on the black line as he circled the track, he is going into this weekend’s British Track Championships in Manchester as defending champion.

Last year, Archibald won the individual pursuit title and in the process, set a new sea-level world record of 4 minutes 9.584 seconds.

So for someone who just a few seasons ago was a complete unknown quantity in the world of track cycling, being the rider who everyone is now gunning to beat is something of a shift. But the 29-year-old from Milngavie is unfazed and is approaching the National Championships in the same way he always has.

“I’ve not thought about being the defending champion too much and the thing about the individual pursuit is that it’s a timed event and so if you’re on form or off form that day, that’ll pretty much decide it,” he said.

“No one else can effect you and you can’t affect anyone else so it just comes down to what you do on the day.

“But it’s definitely a different sort of pressure going in as defending champion. All the experience I’ve had over the past year though will hopefully stand me in good stead. So it’s exciting.”

Archibald’s world record time at last year’s championships, which broke his own world record mark he’d set a month before, was phenomenal.

And while the another world record this weekend is hugely dependent on the conditions, Archibald believes that if everything goes in his favour, he is in shape to set another world best.

“I’m not totally sure if I can go faster this weekend,” said the Commonwealth medallist, who will also ride the points race and the team pursuit.

“We measured the air density (at the Manchester track) and at the start of the week, the air density would have had you going two-and-a-half seconds slower than for the same power output at Nationals last year. Things like the temperature and the air-pressure make a huge difference.

“There’s still lots of things I can chip away at though and so I’m definitely hopeful that I could go faster than 4:09.

“So if there’s the same conditions as last year, I’d be hopeful of beating that time.”

Archibald began his sporting career as a swimmer but when his career hit a plateau in his teens, it began to dawn on him that he may never scale the heights that he had hoped.

A switch to cycling, the sport in which his sister, Katie, has become one of the best in the world, was purely for fun, admits Archibald. But his progress was quicker than anyone, including himself, expected and almost without realising it, he has become a world-class rider.

In the space of just a few years, Archibald has picked up a Commonwealth Games silver medal as well as team pursuit gold and silver in World Cups with his trade team, HUUB Wattbike.

Archibald and his HUUB Wattbike teammates are outside of the British Cycling set-up and so receive no funding but despite this, have made a real impact on the global stage.

Their lack of support has not stopped their progress, and as current team pursuit national champions, Archibald and his teammates will defend that title this weekend too.

It is something of a last hurrah for HUUB Wattbike though, as a change of rules by the UCI mean that as of the start of this month, they are no longer eligible to compete at World Cups as only teams supported by governing bodies can now enter what is now called the Nations Cup.

An attempt at the team pursuit world record in Bolivia in April will be the team’s final outing but they are determined to perform well this weekend to ensure they go out on a high.

It does not soften the blow of the prospect of the team folding though.

“It’s a massive disappointment,” said Archibald.

“While we, the current riders, might be near to the end of the road, it wasn’t necessarily the end for the team and there was a pathway for talent and the team definitely had more potential but that’s all over now.

“I’ll be with my road team, Ribble, for the road season but as of the new track season, I’ll be riding as an amateur and will probably be back to work.”