This is a preview for the Arena Games Triathlon Series powered by Zwift London. You can read-the post race reports on the impressive victory of Cassandre Beaugrand and how Germany’s Justus Nieschlag continued his run of podium success in Arena Games racing
Two weeks on from the Olympiapark in Munich, the second of three 2022 Arena Games Triathlon Series powered by Zwift events arrives in London at another Olympic Games venue.
The London Aquatic Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is the destination, and in contrast to 2021 and the restrictions of the global pandemic, there should be a big crowd of spectators on-site to watch the proceedings.
In two weeks from now the first World Triathlon Esports World Champions will be crowned after the Grand Final in Singapore.
Here is the deep-dive on what you need to know ahead of Saturday’s racing in London.
Start times and how to watch it all live
All racing in London takes place on Saturday 23 April 2022 and you can follow the heats & finals with our expert analysis LIVE here on TRI247 throughout the day.
You can watch all of the action live via Super League Triathlon’s website and YouTube channel, on TriathlonLIVE.tv and via Eurosport, Discovery+, L’Equipe, Viaplay, OutsideTV and others, dependent upon the specific broadcast rights in your region. The Super League Triathlon website has a breakdown of which broadcasters will operate in your region.
And here at TRI247 we’ll be bringing you all the latest coverage as it happens – we’re on the ground in London and will also have expert insight and analysis from elite coach Mark Buckingham as well as embedding the live coverage right here.
The live broadcast show for the Finals runs from 16:00 to 18:30 local time. That’s 17:00 to 19:30 CET, and 11:00 to 13:30 Eastern time.
- Women’s Heat #1: 10:00
- Women’s Heat #2: 10:45
- Men’s Heat #1: 11:30
- Men’s Heat #2: 12:15
- Venue open to ticket holders: 15:00
- Broadcast show starts: 16:00
- Women’s Final: 16:24
- Men’s Final: 17:32
- Broadcast show end: 18:30
- Venue closes: 19:00
Elite Women – competition hots up
Ahead of the Arena Games Triathlon Series Munich event two weeks ago, we had absolutely no doubts who would won the Elite Women’s event, saying in our preview feature of Beth Potter, “Statistically at least, she should win in Munich on Saturday – and I have no doubts at all that she will.”
We can’t claim any great powers of prediction from that, but perhaps the only thing that surprised us was the huge margin by which she totally dominated. She really was in a class of her own.
The late withdrawal of Jessica Learmonth from Munich of course was a significant factor in Potter’s runaway win, and her return for London – along with the likes of Georgia Taylor-Brown and Cassandre Beaugrand will surely ensure that there will be close competition until deep into stage three of the Final. We can look forward to a race, rather than an exhibition!
Learmonth, Taylor-Brown and Beaugrand of course are all Olympic medallists from Tokyo 2020, while Learmonth has the experience of racing (and winning) her only previous Arena Games start, dominating the race at the inaugural event in Rotterdam two years ago.
Interestingly, the first Heat of the day will see Potter, GTB and Beaugrand race together, while Learmonth will go in Heat 2. With four to qualify from each Heat (and the two fastest losers), we are not quite in ‘group of death’ territory… but Heat 1 does appear to be the strongest in depth, to my eyes at least.
When all is said and done however, it would be a big shock if that big four don’t make the final with relative ease.
So, who will win? Despite the presence of the Olympians, I’m going to give the edge to Beth Potter to add to her success in Munich, with another win in London. The Scot has been consistently exceptional with her transitions within the Arena Games environment, and is confident that her (already underrated) swim ability has moved on over the winner.
Combine that with race sharpness from both Germany and her recent success in Quarteira, and I think she will secure a third Arena Games victory from four starts this weekend.
You can find the Elite Women start lists here: Heat 1 | Heat 2
Elite Men – Can Yee bounce back?
The Elite Men’s podium in Munich two weeks ago was Aurelien Raphael (FRA), Max Stapley (AUS) and Justus Nieschlag (GER). If you can find anybody that predicted that result in advance, you really should ask them to pick your lottery numbers this weekend too! Unpredictable, but also welcome and highlighted the nature of the Arena Games format.
In contrast to Beth Potter’s runaway victory for the women, the Elite Men’s race was incredibly close, with five athletes reaching the treadmill for the final time practically together.
The big news of the day was that neither Alex Yee nor Marten Van Riel were in contention at that point, finishing 6th and 8th respectively. It was not their day, though both were able to smile about it afterwards.
There’s no Van Riel this week, but the Munich podium trio plus Yee will all be in London. I saw first hand how the home crowd got behind Munich podium finishers Nieschlag, Meißner and Knoll; will the bigger crowds this week be able to push Yee, who got into the sport through Crystal Palace Triathletes, to success this week?
Special mention to for Gordon Benson, who looked very impressive and controlled during his heat in Munich and was going well in the final too, before a technical issue impacted his treadmill. Allocated the same time as the final athlete in that stage, he was on the back foot from that moment on. Benson has done a lot of Mixed Relay racing, so likes the short stuff. Fingers crossed that he gets to opportunity to properly measure his fitness and form this week.
There are some new names that could challenge for podium honours too, including Takumi Hojo (JPN), the recent winner in Quarteira, and Ricardo Batista, the 2019 World Junior Champion.
Who’s going to win? Acknowledging that there may be a hint of patriotic bias here, I am going to pick Alex Yee to bounce back in style. One thing I’ve written about Alex, many times, is his ability to deal with the ups and the downs of sport. I spoke to him post-race in Munich and while disappointed, he certainly wasn’t down. “Every day is a fishing day, but not every day is a catching day”, and while Stage 1 in the final all but ended his chances of success, the smallest of margins in that first swim could have ended very differently.
Always ready to learn, Yee will have spent the last couple of weeks refining the areas he can improve, and with a vocal, local crowd behind him, I think he can run to an exciting win this weekend.
You can find the Elite Men start lists here: Heat 1 | Heat 2
While the order may change (see format details below), across all events the distances raced in each discipline will be as follows:
- SWIM: 200m in a 50m Olympic-sized pool (four lengths)
- BIKE: 4km, ridden on Zwift, athletes all using Tacx NEO 2T smart trainers (athletes weigh-in ahead of the race on Garmin Index S2 Smart Scales). A big talking point this weekend is that – unlike Munich – the draft function on Zwift has been switched off.
- RUN: 1km, run on a self-powered curved treadmill, linked to Zwift.
Format in London
The racing on Saturday will take place in a ‘Heats’ and ‘Final’ basis:
Heats: In the heats, athletes will race twice. Both stages will be in swim-bike-run format.
The times from the first stage will provide a pursuit start style start order for the second. Thus, in the second race, the winner of the first stage will start, and the second place finisher will start behind them, the number of seconds slower than they were in the first race. Overall Heats results will thus be based on when you finish the run portion of that second stage. No requirement for points accumulation etc.
Qualification for the finals will be achieved by the top four finishers in each heat, plus the next two fastest athletes from across the two heats, leaving ten athletes to race into each of the finals.
Finals: how will they work?
Athletes that qualify for the finals will race three more times, over these formats:
- Stage 1: Swim-Bike-Run
- Stage 2: Run-Bike-Swim
- Stage 3: Swim-Bike-Run
There will be a very short gap between each of the stages to allow the athletes to prepare their kit etc, but the action barely stops.
In a similar manner to the heats, the final leg will be in a pursuit start style, based on accumulated times from the first and second stages. Once again therefore, the first to finish that final run in stage 3 will be the event winner, no points accumulation or calculations to be made.
There’s a sizeable prize purse of $42,200 on offer this weekend in London – certainly one that is significantly above a typical Continental Cup event, for example.
Race winners will collect $5,000 each, with the total pot paying ten-deep – thus, every finalist will take home some winnings.
In addition to the race day prizes, for athletes also racing at the Finals in Singapore (which of itself will have an increased prize purse of $57,000), there will be a further bonus pot $36,000 to the top three athletes in the series.
The top three finishers across the series will receive an additional $8k/$6k/$4k respectively. Including the Munich race, a total of $175k will be earned across the three events over the series.
Click here to check out SLT data guru Graeme Acheson’s predictions for Saturday’s races.