On the day, however, Skipper ended up not finishing, after some early mishaps during the bike leg took him out of contention for the race win or a shot at the podium.
With the World Triathlon Long Distance Championships coming soon in Ibiza, new dad Skipper took the sensible decision to save himself for a shot at the world title in just under two weeks time.
“The swim was the best I could ever hope for”
In an interview post race with The Daily Tri, Skipper shared that despite a strong start to the day in the water, things ended up going going pear shaped out on the bike.
“It wasn’t my day today. The swim for me was the best I could have ever hoped for, +3:30 minutes down on Andy Horsfall-Turner and the other three guys up front which you know, I’m never going to be up there with them.
“With the guys I was with was probably one of my better swims, it’s up there, because I think some of those guys have made the front pack in some big races so you know that’s a positive.
“In transition, I tried a few different things, like putting some calf sleeves on, but honestly I wouldn’t bother, as I probably lost a minute with that in transition which could’ve been quite crucial.”
Skipper added that whilst he pushed hard on the bike to make up the time he had lost to the front group in the swim and in transition, he had no luck making any headway after the leading quartet surged.
“On the bike, I started good and the power was really good, got the gap down to two minutes, then they surged and pulled away and that was frustrating but I couldn’t really do anything.
“The power was good, the guy I was riding with was holding good power, and I thought my power meter might be over reading, but the gap just kept going out again.”
“I just didn’t see the sign”
Despite not being able to make any time into the front group, Skipper was still riding strong just off the lead until the final few kilometres of the bike, where he took a wrong turn and ended up well off course.
“Towards the end of the bike, when we were meant to come off the Hardy Toll, I just didn’t see the sign and kept going thinking it would be the next turn. It was a little confusing as in the briefing they said it was four miles from the end of the Hardy Toll back into transition.”
After heading the wrong way and losing valuable time and positions, Skipper was fortunately put back on the right path by an age grouper, but by then, the damage was done.
“Because I didn’t see a sign I carried on, then ended up finding out from an age grouper that it was well back, so turned around and had added on about 8-9km and by then it was basically game over really. I started the run and got a split saying I was in 15th and 18 minutes down.”
Bigger things on the horizon
On his decision to pull out, Skipper shared that it came down to the big ambitions he has for the rest of the season, which in the short term involve racing for the World Triathlon Long Course title in Ibiza at the beginning of May.
“It’s April, I have an ITU World Championships in two weeks time, in Ibiza, and I’d really like to go and put together a really good race over there.
“With how this race was panning out after the wrong turn it just didn’t make sense to add the fatigue from an Ironman in, you’d like to finish it but I’d like to carry on racing into November this year with IRONMAN Florida so it didn’t make sense to add the fatigue from a race like this.
“I just decided to stop then after eight miles and use it as a solid training day, with a solid swim and bike, followed by a good eight mile run off the bike. My legs don’t feel too battered after it so that’s good.”