Not only did Skipper end up forecasting victory over the reigning Olympic, WTCS and IRONMAN World Champion, he did so by majoring on what would be an astonishing bike leg. To be precise 3:20 – an average of 54kph. For 112 miles…
Even stats guru Graeme Acheson was almost lost for words when he saw what Skipper was planning, admitting: “Joe’s time is absolutely bonkers. Nuts. Crazy. But I love it!”
So what about the man himself, what did Skipper have to say about it all at Thursday’s press conference? He explained the major challenges facing him and his team.
Skipper on bike challenges
“What you’ve got to look out for is the surges, how much they take out of you every time you come around the corner, or if people change, there can be bits of surges to respond to. And it’s just seeing how much they take out of you before you start the run.
“Because obviously when you’re going 54 kilometres an hour, if you lose a metre or two metres and you’ve got to close it, you can only do that so many times and you don’t want to fatigue too much.
“Or even towards the end, once you get two-and-a-half hours in, if the gap goes from two metres to five metres, you might actually find it hard to get back on so you’ve just got to be concentrating the whole time.
“And then the team’s got to be really smooth. So that’s part of the process from being out here, practicing with the lads in the run up to the event is just trying to get it to work as smooth as possible.”
Dowsett on Skipper glory bid
Skipper of course has an elite time trial team to aid him on the bike, including six-time national champion and Commonwealth gold and silver medallist Alex Dowsett. He wasted no time in signing up when initially approached by Alistair Brownlee.
“Effectively, a team time trial is an aspect to the sport I really love,” he explaiined.
“So when Alistair reached out and asked if I would be interested in being part of his team, I said yes, immediately. And no, it’s been awesome. This is a phenomenal circuit. It’s really fun to go fast.”
Dowsett also elaborated on the challenges Team Skipper will come up against on Sunday, and is under no illusions that this will be easy to pull off.
“You have to give it [112 miles] a lot of respect. In some ways it makes it easier than a team time trial; in most other ways, it makes it harder.
“In the ways that it’s easier, you have to bring the intensity down a little bit. Everyone that’s coming in from the cycling aspect is out of all of our comfort zones. But Alistair had faith that we were still the best placed to deliver him, and obviously now to deliver Joe.
“But yeah, it’s gonna be long. And I think after doing a few runs for an hour, hour and a quarter, which is still further than we’re used to, we all came away [saying] like this is good, but three hours twenty’s going to be a long time.”