When the men line up in Birmingham for the start of the Commonwealth Games Triathlon at 11:01 on Friday, it seems most people will be looking forward to watching another battle between Hayden Wilde and Alex Yee.
However, Wilde is mindful of more than just Yee, and wants to give a salute to the Brownlee brothers and their aggressive style of racing.
After an intensive racing block which saw him win at WTCS Leeds and Hamburg, and finish runner-up to Yee in Montreal, Wilde has been preparing for his first Commonwealth Games by ‘training solo’ in Girona.
He took time out of his schedule to talk to TRI247, and said: “This will be my first Commonwealth Games after missing out on the Gold Coast. I was just starting off in triathlon then, so I didn’t have the experience nor the capability to race at such a high level.
“I’m really looking forward to it, especially being one of the favourites is quite a special feeling.
“I know Alex will have the hot favourite tag on his head due to being from the UK and having all that crowd support as well. I’m really looking forward to racing there.”
Fans back home in New Zealand will need to be up at 2am if they want to see their Olympic bronze medal winner go for Commonwealth Gold.
“I know they’ll get up and watch me compete, especially my friends and family. I’ve got a lot of friends from New Zealand who are going to be here, so hopefully I can see them to get that extra bit of morale on the course.”
The Birmingham course
The event starts and finishes in Sutton Park, but also visits the high street and residential areas of Boldmere, Sutton Coldfield.
“I kind of look at it as a little Leeds. What I mean by that is there are hill climbs on the bike, there are climbs on the run but they’re not quite as aggressive as Leeds. You go through little side streets; you go up little pinches of climbs and the same with the run as well.
“It’s a little bit technical with a couple of corners, so if you can keep that pressure on it’ll be a very hard race, and everyone knows how I race… get to the front and race aggressively so we’ll see how that goes.
“I think maybe the first few laps of the bike are going to be crucial potentially. I know those boys, maybe a key swimmer like Henri (Schoeman), Tayler (Reid), Dylan (Mccullough) and Matt Hauser will push the pace up the front. So, to get over to that group as fast as possible will be extremely important to save energy going into the run.”
“Other than Alex, the Commonwealths has a stacked level of athletes, especially with the field being a little bit smaller than a World Triathlon Series; you’re not going to have key people to work with you as you would normally have. The Europeans won’t be there.
“You’re looking at Matt Hauser, he’s had an extremely good season. You never take out Jake Birtwhistle, he’s got an amazing run on him, and the reigning Commonwealth Champion Henri Schoeman will be there.
“You’ve got so many athletes you can choose from winning it from the swim, from winning it on the bike or the run so it’s going to be a very interesting race.”
“Alex has beaten me in Yokohama, I beat him in the Arena Games in Super League, we didn’t have that fair race in Leeds, and in Montreal we didn’t get that fair race at all with having that mechanical. We’re very similar how we race, I think it will come down to a dog race in the last 400-500m, so we’ll see how it goes.
“I haven’t been practicing my sprint finish, I don’t think I need to. I think the times I’ve raced Alex I know he’s got a real strong kick and you’ve just got to be smart how you race. I had five races in five weeks so hopefully that race speed has increased my sprint pace.”
Missing the Brownlees
“I’m disappointed that (neither) Jonny nor a Brownlee is racing. I’m gutted more than anything as a race is a lot more lively and 10 times harder with a Brownlee amongst it. They race with their heart on their sleeve, they’re extremely aggressive. I love the way they race.
“Hopefully the boys at the front will keep pushing just like a Brownlee would. I’m just hoping we can keep the heat on and give a salute to the Brownlees. The way they race is the best way to race, leave everything on the course and don’t leave anything to chance.”