The pacing teams supporting newly-crowned IRONMAN World Champion Kristian Blummenfelt and dual Olympic gold medallist Alistair Brownlee are in the spotlight this week ahead of next month’s eagerly-awaited Sub7 project, powered by Zwift
And ahead of the showdown, ‘Big Blu’ compares himself to a football striker in the latest video update released by organisers the Pho3nix Foundation.
But will it be a tap in for the Norwegian – or something far more demanding?
‘Like a football match’
Interviewed on their test day at the Dekra Lausitzring motor racing circuit near Dresden in Germany, Blummenfelt explained: “The mental process going into a race like this is a little bit different to a World Championship like St George or Hawaii or the [Olympic] Games.
“Of course I still have a big team around me there, but it’s kind of a race for myself on race day. But here at Sub7 you’ll have 10 other teammates on the course really fighting for you and trying to pull you along and being such an important factor.
“It really is going to be like a football match, 11 players on each team and it’s all about having the great 10 behind you who will kind of serve you that last ball you can score from to win the match.”
And that was echoed by Kristian’s coach Olav Aleksander Bu when we caught up with him in the build-up to St George.
“It’s as much a race between Kristian’s pacers and Alistair’s pacers,” he agreed and outlined the plan of action between now and race day on June 5: “After St George we’re going to spend a couple of weeks in Norway, just getting back into training and so on. And then we’ll head off for one week for a small camp with those pacers leading into the event.”
The video shows Olav accompanying Kristian on the recce day at the Lausitzring where the men who have won the last three Olympic titles will lock horns in Sub7. Alistair was there too, meaning a pre-match meet up on the field of battle.
Of course no one has got closer to seven hours that Blummenfelt after that epic 7:21 IRONMAN debut at Cozumel late last year.
His second attempt at the distance netted the World Championship crown in St George at the weekend – but he reckons the margins will be fine when he steps up for a third time early next month.
The Norwegian said: “The goal times for swim / bike / run is difficult – I would like to not lose more than a minute or a minute and a half to Alistair on the swim. Ideally be as close as possible because it’s not just about going as fast as possible, it’s also a battle in the race and it’s going to be very important to beat Alistair’s team.”
For his part, Brownlee – as you’d expect – is drilling down into every detail to maximise his chances.
He said: “Conditions are going to be important. Making sure the wind is in the right direction, making sure that the air is humid, fast and warm, all those things, because this is such a challenge and there’s not a lot of time in it. Making sure that almost everything is as perfect as we possibly can.”