With a solid 6 weeks between Hamburg and Edmonton WTS, I had been keeping a beady eye out for some racing to kill some time, keep me sharp, and hopefully earn a few sheckles along the way. Cue three races in three (and a bit) weeks, the uber-cool Alpe d’Huez tri, the uber-big London tri, and the uber-fun Liverpool tri.
First, to Alpe d’Huez. Nought but a short van trip from Aix, the Alpe d’Huez is undoubtedly a bucket list race for anyone that can get themselves to it. Highly recommended. The swim starts out with 1.1km in the frigid waters of the Lac du Verney, followed by 16kms of flat before you hit the Alpe, and then there’s more elevation than a U2 concert until you reach the top of the Alpe 14kms alter. From there, your legs are buckled and lungs are gasping as the run goes around the ski trail at altitude up to 2200m for the final 7kms. Given the amount I’d been waxing lyrical to a banter-wearied training squad about my win there in 2012, I was well aware I wouldn’t be able to show my face at training again with anything less than a win this time round.
Under that extreme pressure, I pushed the swim as much as I could to lead out, knowing that Andy Bocherer was in the field fresh from stoushing with Keinle in Ironman Frankfurt, I tried to get hustling from the start. Onto the bike, and it was a game of managing wattage, I rode just under threshold until the Alpe, then sat on threshold up the mountain, and hoped that would be enough to extend my lead. I had over 2 mins by the time I got to T2, and grovelled my way around the gravel to grab the win by just under 4 mins in the end, and more importantly, saved face by backing up my pre-race smack talk by arriving back in Aix with some hardware…
London Triathlon, the biggest triathlon in the world, yet one that I’d never managed to squeeze into my schedule. With a gap in this years calendar, I pulled the trigger without hesitation, and booked a ticket to the ole dart. What was supposed to be a quick easy trip over from Aix les Bains on the Saturday morning turned out to be anything but, with a 3hr delay in Geneva, and then some overenthusiastic questioning by a border security guard in London for the best part of an hour, meant it took us the best part of a day to make what should have been a super quick trip. Anyway, I was there!
On to the race, and the started out pretty well, and despite their being more chop than a Bruce Lee film, I managed to move my way into the lead after the first few hundred meters and lead the swim into T2. Out onto the bike and we formed a group of 7 and we set about trying to extend the gap. With training mates Kenji Nener and Matt Robert, it was like swapping turns on a Saturday morning in Aix, with a few bonus Brit’s thrown in for good measure. We worked reasonably well together for the 40kms in gusty conditions, and had about 45 seconds by the time we hit T2.
Out on to the run, and I put together a decent 10km in what was another step forward in my running progression for the year. David Bishop was definitely too quick for me, and took the win, I was good enough for 2nd , and it was great to share the podium with Matt Roberts in 3rd , who continues to develop as an athlete in an impressive fashion. Watch this space.
From there, I spent the week with the guys from Zone 3, doing a bit of filming and training with Ironman Big Dog Joe Skipper. Had a blast training in Guildford, despite some navigational issues extending out some of my rides beyond the intended duration. Big shout out to the guys from Zone 3 for putting me up for the week and showing me around, had a great time!
Following a mammoth 7 hr van trip fighting the London traffic with Gareth and Jake from Zone 3, it was nice to arrive in Liverpool, and finally gave me a chance to try out the Northern accent I’ve been trying to perfect over the last decade in its natural environment. First appraisal from a local – “Bloody ‘orrible”. More practice required then.
It was a strong field for the British Champs, featuring the Bishop brothers, Adam Bowden, Aaron Harris and a host of young talented Brits for their junior worlds selection race. I had another good swim, sneaking away solo on the right hand side from the start, whilst the rest of the field battled among themselves on the left. I led out onto the bike and for the first 5km rode solo, but the front group of around 12 behind me were working like a well-oiled machine and caught me after the first lap. From there, I had a few digs to try and break up the pack a bit, but there wasn’t too much going on, so we entered T2 as a group with around a minute to the main pack behind.
Onto the run, and Bowden showed everyone a clean pair of heels to take what looked like an easy win. My escape sticks were good enough for 4th behind Tom Bishop and Ben Dykstra. Another step forward in my running for this year, slowly but surely getting quicker each race, so hoping to continue the progression forward!
From here, I’m currently en route back to France courtesy of the spacious aeronautical carriage provided by EasyJet. I’ll spend the next 2 weeks in Aix before departing Europe bound for Canada, to race the Edmonton WTS. On that note, my next race after Edmonton will be the Cozumel Grand Final, I’ve been picked in the Elite team for my 6th senior team, which given the last 12 months worth of ups and (mostly) downs, I’m pretty happy about.
Take care friends,