TRI247
Search
shop

Reality check: Not to be for Yee in Munich, Buckingham explains why

Things didn't go right for favourites Alex Yee and Marten Van Riel in Munich - Mark Buckingham gives us the inside track

Brownlee Fitness Head Coach
Last updated -
SHOP

It was a typically busy day for elite coach Mark Buckingham on Saturday. First up, he supervised a three-and-a-half hour bike session for Jonny Brownlee and Lucy Buckingham – both of whom are bound for Challenge Gran Canaria on April 23.

He then joined us to catch up on the heats of the Arena Games – delighted to see Gordon Benson, another of the athletes he coaches, qualify so impressively for the men’s final.

And having analysed the splits from the heats, Mark was one of the few people to tip eventual winner Aurelien Raphael for a podium spot as he provided pointers and insights throughout the day on the TRI247 live blog.

Looking back now at how things panned out in the men’s final, here are Mark’s views on the big talking points:

Advertisement

Making a splash

Aurelien Raphael was so good in the heats. He’s really strong over all three disciplines, particularly in the water.

We’ve seen a similar style of short-format racing from his fellow Frenchman Vincent Luis.

And it’s interesting when you look at the final podium from Saturday – the three guys on there all have good swims. And crucially, when they get tired, they can hold onto those good swims.

I think part of that is because of the tumble turns. They’re all really good off the wall in particular. Look at Max Stapley, those razor-sharp turns don’t cost him a lot of energy, but he can make a big gain. And obviously you don’t get that in regular triathlon, so I think that was key.

But Raphael did everything else right too. I think he rode well in the pack. He didn’t push on too much. He knew it was going to come down to a run at the end and could access a really good run when he needed to.

It was a nice mixture on the podium too. You had the wise heads of Raphael and Justus Nieschlag in first and third, both of whom have been around the block. Justus was super smart on the transitions too. But then you could quite easily say at the other end of the spectrum you had Max Stapley, one of the youngest and in his first race. He had nothing to lose, and sometimes that helps as well. So experience and ignorance work hand-in-hand and can be equally effective sometimes!

Everything conspired against Alex

And talking of the swim, whatever the opposite of the stars aligning is – that happened to Alex Yee on that first swim!

You probably had three of the top five best swimmers in triathlon, all taking that first swim out hard.

(Darren Wheeler - That Cameraman/SuperLeague)
(Photo credit: Darren Wheeler – That Cameraman / Super League Triathlon)

The other guys were able to jump back onto them on the bike but that left a gap to Alex who was probably just three seconds too slow in that first swim and then he wasn’t able to ride up to them.

It’s such fine margins but it’s very rare that you get that calibre of swimmers pushing at the start and then the bike group forming very quickly, which meant Alex didn’t have any athletes between himself and them to bridge up to the gap. Alex was just the wrong side of a very fast swim.

I always look for that because while Alex is a much better swimmer than I was, I was a weaker swimmer relative to the field like he was on Saturday. But as long as there’s a couple of guys between the very front and the very back, you’ve got a chance of riding and getting a wheel. But Alex literally was in no man’s land straight away on the bike and those guys just went hard and it was always going to be against him from then on.

The problem is he’s going full out and the other guys are able to save energy and so he’s then not able to access his best run.

He said himself afterwards that he was close to making the bike group and had he been able to, that could have changed everything.

Van Riel mystery

I’m not sure what happened with the other pre-race favourite Marten Van Riel. It was a strange one as he suddenly dropped back on the bike, going from almost first to last.

Two or three of them just seemed to ride straight away from him and when I saw he was five seconds down but drinking water you could tell he wasn’t his normal self.

You’d expect to see him out of the saddle, going as hard as he can. But he was sat down, drinking. And I was thinking, he doesn’t look right there. I wonder if it’s because he came down from altitude quite close to the race?

Marten Van Riel / Arena Games Triathlon Series Munich
Photo Credit: Jesper Gronnemark/Superleague Triathlon

Treadmill technical

I’ve got to comment on Gordon Benson, who I coach. He was looking great.

He’d qualified for the final and when I spoke to him after the heats he said he’d been able to cruise through the second stage which was ideal. I thought this is a really good opportunity for a podium – that was generally what was going through my head early in the final. And then I see his arm go in the air on the treadmill and I was like oh no, there’s a technical problem.

The rule is such that he gets given the same time as the last-place finisher, which I don’t think is a great rule, but I appreciate their hands are tied to come up with something different. Maybe in the final you could get your average run time from the heats or something like that.

It basically just meant his race was over from that point, which was such a shame but I guess that’s racing.

London calling

I think the important thing is that the dynamic of the Munich race was really swim heavy. So I don’t know if some of those guys will now be thinking right, I’ve got two weeks to work on aspects of my swimming.

Or I’ve got two weeks to work on my two-minute power on the bike. Normally these guys are racing between 30 minutes and an hour on the bike and now it’s five minutes. So your two-minute and five-minute power is really important.

You can actually improve that in a short space of time.

If Alex swims two or three seconds quicker, he’s back in the mix. If Gordon Benson’s treadmill works properly, he’s in the mix.

Overall though I think it was really entertaining to watch, especially the men’s race. I think when you’ve got so many guys so close to each other, it keeps us all on our toes.

Click here for Mark Buckingham’s verdict on the women’s race.

Mark Buckingham
Written by
Mark Buckingham

THE SBRX Show

In episode 1 of our new SBRX Show we sit down with ultra runners and coaches Kim and Jayson Cavill to get their take on the Barkley Marathons and triathlon & trail running gear reviews, training tips and more
Discover more
Anne Haug wins IRONMAN Lanzarote 2024
Anne Haug bounces back with SENSATIONAL season opener at IRONMAN Lanzarote
Jenny Lucas-Hill wearing the Sumarpo vanguard triathlon wetsuit
Sumarpo Vanguard triathlon and swimming wetsuit review – Can it challenge the mainstream tri wetsuit brands?
sea swimming sumarpo triathlon wetsuit
How to get faster at open water swimming – triathlon swim training tips to up your race pace
Challenge St. Pölten 2023 - Photo Credit José Luis Hourcade
Best middle distance triathlon bike courses – from the fastest courses to the most epic scenery
Challenge St. Pölten 2023 - Photo Credit José Luis Hourcade
Five reasons to race Challenge St. Pölten – kickstart your race season with this scenic middle distance triathlon
latest News
Alex Yee, Hayden Wilde WTCS Cagliari 2024 finish
Paris gold medal favourites Alex Yee and Hayden Wilde say they relished battle at WTCS Cagliari
Alex Yee, Hayden Wilde WTCS Cagliari 2024 finish
WTCS Cagliari Results: Full finishing order and times with Yee vs Wilde, NIGHTMARE for Blummenfelt and more Olympic triathlon clues
WTCS Cagliari 2024 Women podium & Series leader - Cassandre Beaugrand, Lisa Tertsch, Emma Lombardi, Beth Potter
WTCS Cagliari results: Full finishing order and times as Cassandre Beaugrand masterclass sets tone for Paris
Beth Potter, Emma Lombardi WTCS Cagliari 2024
Beth Potter and Cassandre Beaugrand react to Paris dress rehearsal after WTCS Cagliari clash
Alex Yee, Hayden Wilde WTCS Cagliari 2024 finish
WTCS Cagliari 2024 results: Alex Yee and Hayden Wilde provide another INCREDIBLE finish
triathlon on your terms
Never miss out with our triathlon alerts & digest. Get a dose of adventure & inspiration with Boundless.
Invalid email address
The SBRX Group

Proudly elevating endurance sports through content, products & services

SBRX
RUN247
GET RACE READY - SHOP WITH SBRX
Share to...