WE may only be in October, but this year has felt like a long, hard slog for John Archibald.

After a season which included making his debut as a pro road racer, becoming British champion and another World Championship appearance for GB, Archibald can feel the miles in his legs.

However, there is one final event to tick off before the 30-year-old can hang up his racing helmet for the season: the National Road Race Championships, which begin in Lincoln on Thursday.

A number of Scots will be in action, including Olympian Anna Shackley, and Archibald will compete in the road race and his favoured discipline, the time-trial, which kicks off the event.

The start-list is formidable: four time Tour de France winner Chris Froome, Olympic gold medallist Owain Doull, national hour record holder, Dan Bigham and grand tour stage winner Alex Dowsett will guarantee a world class race.

However, the fact Archibald goes in as one of the favourites for the title indicates just how impressive his rise has been over the past few years.

A Commonwealth silver medal, numerous British titles, including successfully defending his national 25-mile time-trial title this year, World Cup gold, team bronze at the 2019 Road World Championships and a world record in the individual pursuit is quite a list for someone who only came to the fore in his twenties.

However, having had such a long, hard season, he plays down the suggestion that success is expected over the next few days.

“I’ve always loved the National Championships but it’s October and it’s been a long year of racing already,” he says. “I guess I’m always going in looking for a result but if you’ve given it your best, you can’t really ever be too disappointed. Especially with so many good riders, you can’t know exactly how it’s going to go.

“But having been up there in previous years, I do go in this year hoping for a podium spot. It’s a goal but not an expectation. There’s only going to be one winner, of course that’s the nature of sport, and it can’t be you every time.”

Having signed a pro contract with Spanish-based road team EOLO-Koneta for 2021, there was much anticipation as to what the season would bring for Archibald.

However, things did not work out quite as planned for the Milngavie man, whose sister is Olympic track champion, Katie.

A less than favourable racing schedule led to a disappointing run of results for Archibald, with the pro scene proving to be less enjoyable than he had hoped. But he is glad to have had the experience of a being a road pro, something only a select group of his fellow Scots have enjoyed.

“The season didn’t go all that well. I was thrown in the deep end and it was a sink or swim scenario and I sunk a bit really, to be perfectly honest,” he says.

“The step up was a lot bigger than I expected and then the stage races I was put into didn’t suit me – one of the races was just climbing mountains where I was never going to have an impact and so it didn’t do much for my confidence.

“I was brought in as a time trialist and only did a few time-trials all year with the team so it’s not lived up to what I expected really.

“I’m still glad I took the opportunity when it came up but it’s really not worked out the way I hoped.”

With Archibald as certain as he can be that a new contract will not be signed, he has already turned his thoughts to next year and, with the Commonwealth Games on the horizon, a potential return to the track.

His success for Team Scotland at Gold Coast 2018 was a surprise to all, Archibald included, given his newness to the discipline, and so it would be easy to assume expectations for Birmingham 2022 are considerably higher.

Not necessarily so, though, says Archibald.

“I’ve not been on the track for almost two years so it’s a total unknown. In my head, I know I’d love to go for it but physically, I need to put some work in and find out where I’m at,” he says.

“If you look at each four-year cycle between each Commonwealth Games, things move on a lot so it’s not just a case of getting back to where I was, for Birmingham I need to be better than that. So I have to see if I’m able to do that.”

A break after such a gruelling season would be well deserved but with qualification for the Commonwealth Games already looming, there may not be time for such a luxury.

“I won’t end up having much time off because the track racing begins in December and if I’m trying to qualify for the Commonwealths, that’s what I’ll need to do. So it’ll be more of a transition than a break,” Archibald says.

“In previous years, I’ve not taken a break because mentally, I’ve not needed it – I’ve been feeling good and wanted to get straight into it. This year is slightly different and I feel like I could do with a bit of a break but whether or not I take it, I’ll have to see.”