WORLD Champion versus Olympic Champion. Scotland versus England. Tenant versus landlord.

Katie Archibald doubts whether Laura Kenny is having the same thoughts right now, considering her friend could give birth to her first child at any minute, but it would certainly make for the mother of all battles if these two British Cycling golden girls were to face off in the omnium at the Anna Meares velodrome at the Gold Coast this April. 

“She should be having her little baby any day now so I can’t imagine she is having exactly the same thoughts as me – in fact it is probably 
a very different conversation she is having!” Archibald told Herald Sport of the four-time Olympic and seven-time World Champion. 

“But is she such a phenomenal athlete that could she be ready for April? I think a lot of people believe she could, because her calibre is such that even a sort-of 90% ready Laura could be worthy of selection. I guess it is up to what her ambitions are, whether she wants to have a slower transition back into the sport, but there would be a few headlines there if she did make it back!”

British Cycling, admits Archibald, is “a very small circle”. Let’s just say the topic of babysitting has already been broached. “I actually rent a house from Laura in Manchester,” says Archibald. “What is she like as a landlord? Scarily laid back. I could have burned the house down and I don’t think she would bat an eyelid. They say that you shouldn’t go into business with your friends, but she has been fantastic.

“But we have been joking about it [babysitting],” she added. “Laura is having a baby, my coach is having a baby, Chris Hoy is having a baby, Sarah Storey is having a baby, so we are going to have to get a creche at the velodrome. I am definitely not looking after all of them.”

When it comes to Archibald, of course, track events like the team pursuit – in which she and Kenny claimed Olympic gold in Rio – and the omnium – the four-race compendium of different disciplines which provided Archibald with her first individual World Championships gold medal in Hong Kong in April – are only part of the story. 

For her, cycling is both a marathon and a sprint. The words don’t exactly trip off the tongue, but this sparky 23-year-old from Milngavie, in Glasgow to publicise Sunday’s HSBC City Ride through Glasgow, is in what her sports scientists tell her is a “muscle hypertrophy phase”. 

This means she is doing a tonne of work in the gym to build a base of bulk, which with “a shake of a magic wand” will turn into speed when the track cycling season gets going again at the European Championships in Berlin in October. It is a competition where she already has eight gold medals and one silver.

The only problem is that all this gearing up for short bursts, sometimes over distances in the region of just 200m, doesn’t always work in your favour when at the same time you are attempting to finish gruelling 156.6km stages of the Tour of Norway like last week. 

Such difficulties rather put into context all the eulogies which land at the feet of footballers capable of doing a job at right midfield as well as right back, or rugby union players who can move from fly-half to inside centre. 

While Archibald jokes against herself that she is “jack of all trades, master of none”, this is of course balderdash. It is precisely this versatility which marks her out as such a special talent. 

Months after her omnium victory on the track here she was, out on the roads again, coming within a whisker of claiming the British road race title as she claimed a silver medal behind Lizzie Deignan on the Isle of Man.

There is a Road World Championships, back in Norway, next month but Archibald knows something has got to give. As much as the 23-year-old was winning handicap races on her dad’s oversized road bike and being dragged up storied Tour de France climbs like Mont Ventoux as a teenager, not only does she see track cycling as her real calling but, put bluntly, the UK Sport lottery funded route is also a more reliable source of funding than the women’s road race scene, where she has a berth with Team WMT, right now. 

“I thought from what I would have to sacrifice in track prep it probably wasn’t worth the ambitions I would have for a road world championships,” she says. “So I don’t expect to go. I am not sure if I am on a long list, but I am definitely not on a short list.” 

The Commonwealth Games, thankfully, is a little different. Ultimately, who does what event come the Gold Coast will rest in the hands of the selectors, but Archibald will not be shy in putting her hand up. She rationalises her formidable efforts at Glasgow – which ended up with a solitary bronze medal – with a joke at her own expense. 

“In Glasgow the joke was that I never placed better than third, but I won the omnium!” she said. “I had a third, a fourth, a fifth, a seventh and another fourth, so every single event I was top seven, but nothing higher than bronze. 

“The way I am phasing it out is that we have the track worlds [in Appeldoorn in March 2018] so it will be a huge track build, then I am looking to fit in a bit more volume and length to try to give me a bit more feasibility for the road race,” she added.

“From what I have heard, it isn’t a climbers’ course, it is a sprinters’ course. So the two might work quite well out there, the track and road. Potentially it could be a bunch sprint. I will be putting my hand up for every event and just seeing what happens.”

Archibald remains an engaging free spirit but there have been no further excursions on the motorbike after the one which saw her crash at high speed, and sustain injuries which almost saw her miss out on Rio. 

Her idea of living dangerously these days is binge watching Narcos on Netflix after listening to a talk in Glasgow by two of the DAs on the case.

“No, I have been well warned,” she said. “I have to confess that I have fallen into the habit of training, eating and sleeping, with the odd dose of Netflix.”