SLT Arena Games London Powered by Zwift
After the debut of the real-meets-virtual world format last year in Rotterdam, there’s Pro racing in London tomorrow (Saturday) courtesy of the SLT Arena Games London. And you can watch it all live from the comfort of your sofa.
Despite all the issues that we are more than familiar with now impacting organising racing and international travel, this fun format as still managed to put together two quality lineups.
Winner of the hastily arranged 2020 World Triathlon Championship in Hamburg, Georgia Taylor-Brown heads the women’s start list, which includes six British athletes.
The addition of Lucy Charles-Barclay, three-time silver medallist at the IRONMAN World Championship adds particular interest. One of the most experienced and top performing racers on Zwift, there’s no doubt that her swim speed will not be an issue here, where races are held over distance of 200m swim / 4km bike (Tacx Neo2T Smart Trainer on Zwift) / 1km run (treadmill). Three races will be held in close succession, with the results of the individual stages combined to determine the winner, on a point (position) basis.
- Stage One – swim-run-bike
- Stage Two – run-bike-swim
- Stage Three – bike-swim-run
Speaking ahed of the event, Lucy said:
“I’m definitely someone who loves a challenge. I love to throw myself in at the deep end. For a long time I have wanted to see if I could do the short course racing and see how I stack up against those top girls on the ITU circuit and this is going to give me the opportunity to find out. I want to see how I fare against them and give it my all.
“Super League is rocketing the sport into the future. Triathlon is such a big sport but not really as watched as it should be.
“Super League is making it exciting. There’s so much going on. It’s brutal. It’s quick moving and it’s something in the future I think we could have big crowds watching it and enjoying and supporting triathlon.”
Rachel Klamer (NED) has Arena Games experience on her side, finishing second last year in Rotterdam, while Alice Betto (ITA) should provide strong competition, based upon her second place at the 2019 Tokyo Test event and top-10 in the Grand Final later that season.
Super League have been putting out some great digital content ahead of the event, including this insight into the preparations of Beth Potter and Ruth Astle.
Olympic Silver and Bronze medallist – and already pre-selected for Tokyo – Jonathan Brownlee, would welcome a strong start to his year, despite the vast difference in challenge between this event and an Olympic Distance in the humidity of the Odaiba Marine Park.
Germany’s Justus Nieschlag emerged victorious from last year’s event in Rotterdam, which will no doubt provide additional comfort and motivation, with compatriot Jonas Schomburg also a strong performer in 2020.
“The intensity of the format is huge. In the first stage it is like a normal triathlon, but with each stage it gets harder and harder and in the end it is just all about surviving. Never give up and fight until the finish line”, said the Nieschlag ahead of Saturday’s event
Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca was a real breakthrough performer during the shortened season last year, finishing second to Vincent Luis in the Hamburg World Championships, before repeating that at the Karlovy Vary World Cup – he was also second in Rotterdam, so a win would be nice!
As with the women, there’s interest in this (very) short form of racing from long-course athletes too, notably Tim Don, George Goodwin and Adam Bowden.
Now 43, Tim still relishes every challenge available:
“Since I broke my neck, if a challenge comes my way I definitely accept it. I will commit 100 percent to a race and leave nothing out there at all. I am going to have to fight for every place. You can only do one thing in that kind of race – full gas.
“My motivation for racing the Arena Games is the challenge. It’s proving to myself that I can still be competitive over the super short distance against these young guys coming up. I’m not just this Ironman guy who is super slow and ‘been there, done that.’ Half of my PBs are quicker than these guys. I’ve been to more Olympics than they’ve had hot dinners, let alone won world titles.”
Adam Bowden – along with Gordon Benson – was a late addition to the start list, with the withdrawals of Ben Dijkstra and Reece Charles-Barclay. Kudos to both for stepping in, and congratulations to Super League Triathlon for finding such talented replacements so late in the day. Adam said:
“It’s been a lot of fun racing virtually, and I’m really looking forward to getting together this weekend to benchmark where I am against this great field, racing shoulder to shoulder in this unique format. It has been a challenging year for everybody, but I’m feeling great and ready to push hard at the event with my eye on a podium spot this weekend.”
- WOMEN – 3pm start time
- MEN – 4pm start time
- BBC Red Button and iPlayer
- Super League Triathlon YouTube Channel