Alistair Brownlee has two very specific targets in mind for 2022 as he gradually works towards a return to elite triathon – the rescheduled IRONMAN World Championship at Kona and that much-publicised SUB 7 bid.
The two-time Olympic champion missed out on bidding for a ‘threepeat’ in Tokyo this summer after undergoing surgery on an ankle injury.
He is not ready yet to return to triathlon, though he has competed in a couple of recent off-road events on his bike – Spain’s iconic Badlands race and the British Gravel Championships this past weekend.
Kona being rescheduled until (at least) February 2022 means Brownlee does now have a chance to make the start line, and that definitely remains his major goal for next year along with that SUB 7 attempt.
Alistair Brownlee on 2022
He told The Telegraph: “Oh, I definitely still think both are still possible. The date we’ve set for Sub-7 is early June. And the date for Kona is early February. So yeah, I don’t see that being a problematic clash at all.
“It was a good thing for me that Kona was postponed, because I was thinking about trying to rush and be in a position to race there. But being postponed gives me quite a bit of time to get ready.
“Hopefully – and I say hopefully because this injury keeps putting a spanner in the works – I get back and race there to the best of my ability.”
The assault on SUB 7 has fascinated Brownlee – he is working alongside former Team Sky and British Cycling nutritionist Nigel Mitchell and looking for every possible edge to get closer to that mythical mark.
“Everything from trying to develop the fastest wetsuit we possibly can, to working out what’s the best format and number of people to use in the team on the bike, to looking at nutrition and maximising the number of carbs that I can absorb in a race or looking at aerodynamics on the bike.”
“A good example would be the wetsuit. Not to get too boring or technical, but normally the standard is five-millimetre neoprene. The thicker the neoprene, the more buoyant you are, the faster you go etc. But the more restrictive it is …
“So, we’re doing a big project to work out how thick we can have the neoprene in certain places, and using different neoprene in different places, and then different types of wetsuit, and we’re going to test different wetsuits eventually for efficiency and oxygen consumption.
“Our wetsuit sponsor is super excited that what we’re learning will be able to trickle down to making the ultimate legal suit as well.”
SUB 7 nuts? Pistachio nuts
If you thought the SUB 7 attempt was nuts, you’d clearly be right – pistachio nuts to be precise – with Brownlee underlining their benefits, and Mitchell’s firm belief in the “micronutients” in them, “particularly the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which are important for macular health – it’s easy for athletes to underestimate macular health”.
As yet there is no final date for SUB 7 SUB 8, but all signs point to a summer bid at a European venue – potentially a motorsport circuit.
“Somewhere closed and controllable,” said Brownlee.
“I think there’ll be an announcement soon on that front. We really want to get a date and location locked down. It’s a really exciting project.”