Arena Games Triathlon London 2023: Strada wins as Schoeman takes world title

Staff Reporter

After a fantastic display over all three disciplines, Nicolo Strada (ITA) took the win at the Arena Games Final ahead of Henri Schoeman (RSA), as the South African celebrated a fairytale return to racing with the Esports World Championship title.

American Chase McQueen, who won in Montreal and looked set to challenge Schoeman for the win, ended up +2:31 down in tenth, as he struggled to match the speed set by the rest of the field on the treadmill.

Third on the day, Kyle Smith (NZL) just outsprinted Gustav Iden (NOR) and Simon Westermann (SUI) to take an impressive bronze medal just months after lining up at the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona.

[Click here to read how the women’s race unfolded as Beth Potter took the race win and Sophie Linn the Esports World Championship title]


Stage 1: Strada leads as McQueen bleeds time

(Format – 200m swim / 4km bike / 1km run)

Whilst the women saw two athletes to the fore, the men’s race was a different story, with just over ten seconds separating McQueen in first place and Iden who was down in tenth. At the front of the race, Italian Strada and South African Schoeman were breathing down McQueen’s neck as the Montreal winner led on to the bike.

In Zwift’s “Crit City”, Strada looked in control at the front of the race, as the Italian pushed some impressive power as he led Schoeman and McQueen, with the leading trio just a matter of seconds ahead of the rest of the field.

On to the treadmill, Strada was quick off the mark, as the young star, who featured on the podium in London twelve months ago, looked to open up a gap to Schoeman and McQueen over the 1km run leg.

Meanwhile, as Strada looked to Schoeman and McQueen to gauge his effort, Kiwi Smith moved up into second after a strong bike leg, as McQueen began rapidly losing time to the front over the course of a kilometre on the treadmill.

Strada was rewarded for his efforts with the stage win, whilst McQueen looked exasperated after coming off the treadmill, with a technical fault a possibility but after the post-stage interview the true nature of the problem was still left unresolved.


Stage 2: Schoeman and Strada go head-to-head

(Format – 1km run / 4km bike / 200m swim)

With McQueen left to keep grinding through his own problems, and the world title slowly slipping from his grasp, the front of the race got away, with Smith and Iden out on to the bike first.

Max Stapley - Arena Games London 2022 - run, Heats
Photo Credit: Darren Wheeler – That Cameraman/SuperLeague

The Norwegian and Kiwi pushed some incredible watts at the front, as Strada pulled off and incredible effort to bridge up to the front and make his way up to the pair. The Italian, who came into London a little under the radar, was at the front throughout.

Iden, for all his efforts, was served a five second penalty for leaving his shoes outside the box in transition, with Kiwi Smith also serving a penalty, which quickly left the pair chasing Strada and Schoeman at the front.

Whilst Strada entered the water alongside Schoeman, McQueen resorted to butterfly for the second 200m swim, with the American accepting that his race for the world title was run.

Strada put a second into Schoeman over the final 50m, to give himself a small gap over the Sursee champion heading into the final stage, with Westermann eight seconds behind out in third.


Stage 3: Strada takes the win with a great performance

(Format – 200m swim / 4km bike / 1km run – Pursuit start based on aggregate Stage 1 plus Stage 2)

With a seven second lead over Schoeman, Strada covered the 200m swim comfortably to come out of the water with a cushion over the rest of the field, with Schoeman holding the gap and Westermann next on the bike.

On to the bike course, Strada extended his lead, as the Italian pushed well over 5.5w/kg to give himself the perfect opportunity to come away with the race win. Behind, Smith was chasing down Schoeman, with Westermann another who was riding hard to keep himself in the mix.

As Strada smoothly went through transition and on to the treadmill, Schoeman looked to have a comfortable lead over the rest of the field, with Strada way out in front, but the South African looking in control over the final leg.

Whilst Strada and Schoeman enjoyed comfortable gaps to their nearest competitors, the battle for third between Smith and Westermann was the race within the race, as the Swiss athlete, who was on the podium in Sursee, just missed out on third to Smith in a final sprint.

Arena Games Montreal 2023 Henri Schoeman waves photo credit Darren Wheeler That Cameraman SLT
[Photo credit: Darren Wheeler That Cameraman / SLT]

Strada, just 23 years old, looked composed throughout and was the worthy winner, as Schoeman clinched the Esports World Championship title after a solid race, to celebrate his comeback season in style after a torrid time since his 2016 Olympic bronze.

After the race, Schoeman shared that he’d fallen in love with the Arena Games format, and heralded the competition for kickstarting his season.

“I just wanted to come back into racing, sharpen up the body with the Arena Games, and I fell in love with this kind of racing since Montreal, and I’m just so fortunate, to compete in front of an amazing crowd like here in London.”

Arena Games Triathlon London 2023 Results

Final – Elite Men: Sunday April 8, 2023

  • 1. Nicolo Strada (ITA) – 33:41
  • 2. Henri Schoeman (RSA) – 34:04
  • 3. Kyle Smith (NZL) – 34:11
  • 4. Simon Westermann (SUI) – 34:12
  • 5. Gustav Iden (NOR) – 34:14
  • 6. Johannes Vogel (GER) – 34:16
  • 7. Maxime Hueber-Moosbrugger (FRA) – 34:22
  • 8. Fabian Meeusen (SUI) – 34:24.
  • 9. Jeremy Briand (CAN) – 34:31
  • 10. Chase McQueen (USA) – 36:12

Esports World Championship Overall Standings

  • 1. Henri Schoeman (RSA) – 713 points.
  • 2. Nicolo Strada (ITA) – 698 points.
  • 3. Simon Westermann (SUI) – 610 points.
Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.
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