Get to know Archie Ryan

Our Irish rookie speaks about his WorldTour debut, his favorite books, and being inspired by his buddy Ben Healy.

February 14, 2024

Archie Ryan made his WorldTour debut at the Tour Down Under.

The Irishman got off to a solid start in Australia. Now, he is excited to show the peloton what he can do when he is at his best.

His road to the top hasn’t been an easy. In 2022, while still riding for a devo team, Archie won a stage at the Tour of Slovakia, beating all comers on a mountaintop finish to get his first pro victory. A nagging knee injury kept him off the bike for a lot of last year, and it was tough for him to keep his spirits up. Now, his knee has finally healed and he is ready to get back to his winning ways.

We gave him a shout. Get to know Archie Ryan.

First off, Archie, how was the Tour Down Under?

It was alright. I just had a bad day on the wrong day to have a bad day and it all went up in smoke, basically, so not great, because I went there with a fair bit of ambition. But the legs were good. My form was good, apart from that day. And it was a class start with the team. All of the boys were super, super sound and we worked really well together. That was cool.

How is the vibe on the team with all of the young guys?

It is great. We had a great time in Oz. We were mostly a new squad, but it felt like we had been racing together for years the way the boys rode. It was completely as if we had one mind and one goal and we really went for it, which was super cool, especially for a team that was just so new. Four of us were new to the team. But then overall as well. We have got a lot of young riders, which is nice for me actually. I like being with people my own age. We have a great mix, and we are all from different places, which is really cool culturally.

Who on the team do you look up to?

We have Carapaz and Chaves and all of these cycling greats. But then you have Ben, which is weird for me to say because I consider him a friend, but I look up to him and all he has done as well. There are so many guys on the team. Rui was world champ. How unreal is that? I get to sit with him at the dinner table. There are loads of boys I look up to and I’m like, wait, I am having a conversation with this guy. What is going on?

Does Ben’s progression inspire you?

For sure. It is super inspiring. It gives you confidence. You are like, if he can do it, I can do it too. And it is also just so good to see another young lad breaking through, no matter who it is. This guy from Birmingham or wherever he is from—the small village of Birmingham in the west of Ireland.

Where is home for you?

I am from Wicklow in Ireland, so just south of Dublin. I live in the countryside next to a couple of farms. We have a view of the mountains. Wicklow has an awesome mountain range called the Wicklow mountains, where I train. It is very green with lots of fields. There is not a whole lot happening in Wicklow. There are a few small towns, but if want to do something, I head up into Dublin and get to the city centre. It’s a 45-minute drive and then I can do whatever I want to do.

How did you get started in bike racing?

My dad joined a local triathlon club and also a cycling club and he got my twin brother Will to start racing. He started racing, and then I thought, I would like to do that too. So I started.

Does your brother still race?

No, he stopped a couple of years ago.

Was there a bit of competition between the two of you?

For sure. We all love a sibling rivalry, right. He was really good actually. He was better than me as a youth rider. We were often fighting it out. We both had a lot of knee problems. His forced his hand a little bit, but he also just didn’t enjoy it that much.

When did you know you could be good?

I was a pretty average youth rider. A lot of youth races are pretty flat and I was probably like 40 kilos so I never did very well. Then, I improved a lot as I started to improve a bit physically and got to the juniors and got to some hilly races and started to develop nicely. I was lucky enough to do well enough to get on Jumbo Devo as a U23, and now I am here.

What do you love about bike racing?

It’s hard to put it down to one thing. I love the intensity. I love the competition. I really love the competition. I love just racing along shoulder to shoulder, the buzz of it, adrenaline. It is something you can’t quite get anywhere else. I can’t go and drive my car door against door, racing cars. It is something different, racing bikes. It is just a really cool feeling, going super fast in the bunch. But also the people you meet, the adventure, getting to travel places. You go out for six hours and end up somewhere you have never been before. That is super enjoyable.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Probably my stage win at the Tour of Slovakia in ’22. That was a big stepping stone for me, because it is my first and only pro win, so I would say that would be the biggest moment for sure.

What has been the biggest challenge?

My knee injury for sure. If you ask anyone what my biggest challenge has been, they would all say that. I have just had a lot of knee injuries over the years. Nowadays, it feels pretty good, but I still have to keep an eye on it. I have had a lot of time off the bike due to it, but I have to give a lot of thanks to the EF Pro Cycling medical team for sorting me out.

Bike racing is a tough sport. How do you keep your drive when you are going through those lows?

It is really hard to keep the drive, because a lot of times you will be there suffering and think, oh God, why do I do this to myself? But for me it is just the will to win, wanting to prove myself, and not wanting all of that hard work in the background to go to waste. I think that is the biggest thing, to not just give up on the moment.

What are your ambitions for the years ahead?

Have fun. Beyond that, I don’t know. Result-wise, everyone will say, I want to win this grand tour or this grand tour stage win, but I would just like to win bike races. It doesn’t really matter to me which one. There is not one in my head, where I am just like, I really want to win this one. I just want to win bike races.

Bike racing gets stressful. What do you do to relax?

Cycling takes a lot of my time. I just like to hang out with friends, shoot the breeze. It’s not as if I am really into this hobby or that. I just like to hang out with my friends and not do much. I think that is the best thing. I don’t like doing nothing, but doing nothing with your friends is great. And I like reading.

What are you reading right now?

I am re-reading “The Secret History" by Donna Tartt’. It is great. It is so good. It is just such a good story. It is heartbreaking at the end and you just can’t put it down. It is literally gripping. I feel like that word is used far too often when describing a book, but this one actually is. That would be my favorite book. Next on my list is “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara. That is supposed to be awful. I have heard both sides. Some people will be like, oh man you are not going to be able to put this down. Others will say it is really, really slow and it just fucks you up. So I am looking forward to that. It is next on my list.

Do you bring books to races?

I try to, but often I will find it hard to sort of switch off, which it helps me do, but I find it hard sometimes to really concentrate. So I will go into reading and non-reading phases. I will go a couple of months without reading and then I will read four books in two weeks or whatever. And then I will go off reading for a while and start reading again. But I always bring a book everywhere, whether it gets taken out or not is probably 50/50. I read more at home.

You have gone all-in on cycling. Most of your friends are probably at uni now. Do you sometimes feel like you are missing out?

For sure. Uni would be a great crack. But I am also really lucky to do what I do. It is really easy to think that the grass is greener on the other side, but then I remember, like heck, I am probably a lot happier doing what I do now. But for sure, I would have loved to have gone to uni. I think it would have been a very different life and very fun as well.

What do your friends think of your racing career?

Oh mate. All my friends are cycling friends. But my friends who have quit cycling and gone to study, a lot of them are quite into tech stuff, which is not my thing at all. A lot of tech, engineers, accounting—these sort of things. That sounds awful to me. But they think what I am doing is super cool. They always tell me they love hearing about it, like god you are living the dream. And I am like, am I? Maybe I am. But they think it is super cool and always ask about it.

What do you wish that they knew about bike racing?

I wish they knew how hard it actually is. When you see a race, it is easy to think that the guy off the front is having a great time, but what he is really doing is: he is solo and he is dying a few deaths, trying to basically ride himself into the ground. And that is quite difficult to do actually. You watch it on TV and the commentator will say, he is clear, he has done it, look how happy he is. He is happy but he is also suffering. It is quite a mental sport. It is really really hard. I think a lot of people don’t realize that.

Where does that drive come from?

I would say it comes from a lot of different things for different people. Some just like the pain, you know. For me it would just be the want to win, to beat that other person, the competition, the want to win the race.

Thanks, Archie. And good luck. We hope to see you winning soon.

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