Katie Archibald will take an unwanted step unto the unknown when the TISSOT UCI Track World Cup returns to Manchester this weekend.
The 23-year-old Olympic and world champion, from Milngavie, has demonstrated to all that she is on form this season – all but herself it seems.
Last month she picked up the ninth and tenth European titles of her career before adding the Six Day London women’s title to her palmares for a second time, just a week later.
But for Archibald, a complex mixture of self-confidence and self-doubt, she is still unsure of herself going into the first Manchester World Cup since 2013.
“In the team pursuit you’ve got numbers and times that you can fall back on and say black or white, this is how you’re going,” she said.
“But even then my form is still fairly erratic.
“Then with the bunch events I just have to trust how I think and feel, and it’s really frustrating because I’ve no idea how I feel.”
Archibald will race the team pursuit, omnium and Madison this weekend, a busy schedule that will see her potentially taking to the track in all but one of the event’s six sessions.
At the recent Six Day London she won the UCI omnium event, taking victories in the tempo and elimination races before holding her position in the points race.
Over the three days of competition at London’s Olympic velodrome, though, she failed to win any of the three scratch races that were competed – a fact not lost on her.
“I like a good stat and it was interesting to point out that we had three scratch races and I didn’t win any of them,” she added.
“I think a lot of it is to do with omnium focus and constantly thinking of the different players and how many matches you want to burn in one go.
“You do worry that you lose the instinct to go for a race and win it, though.”
Also riding in Manchester are Archibald’s fellow Scots Mark Stewart and Neah Evans – each taking their place in Great Britain’s respective endurance squads.
For Evans it will be a chance to show the scratch race win she took at last weekend’s Poland World Cup, before being relegated, was no fluke.
While Paisley’s Jack Carlin will be looking to back up the bronze medal and personal best time the team sprint trio laid down in Pruszkow, last weekend.
“Poland was one of the best rides we’ve ever done – and the time shows it – collectively. We were more pleased with that bronze than we were with the World Cup golds last year,” said the 20-year-old.
“It meant more to us. We’ve been up there in the mix with it this year, but the times just haven’t been quite at the same level they were last year.
“So to do that in Poland, it all came together in the bronze medal final. The time was more important than the medal and it’s positive for what’s to come.”
A home Track World Cup is not only a platform for established stars to put on a show for the roaring British crowd, but also a chance to give fledgling talents their first taste of the big time.
And for 18-year-old Stirling rider Jenny Holl – one of five Team Breeze riders in with a shot at their team pursuit quartet for race day – it is the chance of a lifetime.
She said: “When we found out in September who was coming to the World Cup, it was so exciting – I’ve never been so happy.”
On November 10-12, incredible riders like Katie Archibald will compete on the Manchester Velodrome in one of the most anticipated events on the track cycling calendar. Buy your tickets http://www.trackworldcup.co.uk/tickets/