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So, most of us have been sitting on the sidelines since 1994 when they introduced the first draft legal ITU races shaking our heads and thinking that they have made the entire bike leg irrelevent. But if you look at any Tour de France "sprinter stage" (like the one into Bordeaux) or a classic like Milano San Remo, you know the excitement of watching a race with a "breakaway" group being chased down by the sprinters. Will they get gobbled up at the 100m to go sign, or will they hold off Cipollini, Zabel and McEwen to take the race ? This past weekend, when Bettini won at San Remo, was the perfect example. The breakaway group beat the Cipo led bunch by just 11 seconds.
So for draft legal tris, if you went swin-run-bike, every race would have a breakaway group of skinny runners like Whitefield, Ivan Rana etc, trying to hold off the charging bike studs like Miles Stewart, Macca, Olivier Marceau and likely 94 World Champ Spencer Smith. The skinny leg guys would have to work together like crazy to get to the line, and then they could play a poker game if they had time to spare to see who takes the sprint. On the other hand, if they get gobbled by the bunch forming in the back, then they finish in 60th place.
Are there any race directors out there who have tried this format ? This would make for exciting TV coverage. Right, now, watching an ITU race is a big snorefest on the men's side. The womens' race is still exciting because of the Lindquist-Taormina-Hackett-Harrop breakaway at pretty well every race.
so I've been told that under the current venue if the swimmer isn't in the lead pack, thus making it into the lead bike pack, there out of contention right then and there.
I was, now I will tri again!
Any time is a good time.
God Bless you my friend.
I like that idea. Right now all the ITU greats do is work on swimming, running and how to "suck" someones wheel in a group ride. Now make them slow down a little on the run to save some energy to hold off the great cyclists ripping up on them, which is definitely what is going to happen. The bike studs will get together and move up on the runners like they aren't moving.
ITU = Duathlon (Swim - Run) with a bike recovery
Swim + Run = Aquathalon (not sure about spelling though).
Now back to the topic. Really strong cyclists (like Craig Walton), who actually work on the bike, can get away from the main pack. If you aren't such a great swimmer, but a great runner, and a medium cyclist you can still win if you work with a big group and save your energy for the run, then go all out. If you're a great swimmer and a medium cyclists, but not so much of a runner, you can conserve your energy in the swim and stick with the main pack, then use the energy you still have to go (again) all out in the run.
Last example (this happened to a friend of mine): You aren't a very good swimmer, but you are the kind of person who can get away from a peleton on the bike, then when you get out of the water you can still catch the main pack.
I think Triathlon as it is right now is pretty well balanced, but variations of it would be interesting.
Now that I think of it, in May we have a competition here that's called something like 'Super Triple Sprint' (or something similar). There are 3 'mini races' in it, first it's: 6k bike-2k run-200 meter swim (which you need to complete under 30 minutes), then 2k run-200 meter swim-6k bike (again under 30 minutes), then finally the regular Tri (which you have to complete under 30 minutes again). I'll write about how it goes later in May.
I'm not trying to sound off as strongly as this is going to sound, but if I wanted to see a bike race, I'd go watch a crit or travel to watch the euro-pros. Currently we have a running race with two pre-fatigue events. If I'd wanted to watch a running race I'd rather be watching people like Kennedy and Drossin.
The current format has neutralized the bike leg for the top competitors. Few, if any are able to escape. The race doesn't start until the run. The swim and bike have become essentially a selection down to the few contesting the run.
I think your proposed format would neutralize the entire race down to a final sprint. Only the RARE triathlete could hope to stay off the front of a hard chasing pack. People would still limit losses on the swim, having to be in the lead pack. The runners would have to hold back to have any chance in a sprint with the stronger cyclists. They simply aren't going to stay off the front with a 1-2 minute lead.
I've really tried to give the ITU format a chance, but I still think it tends toward the snorefest that you call it. Even the women's racing. It just doesn't excite me the way non-drafting does.
You are likely correct, that the format would end up in some kind of a field sprint, but for that field sprint to materialize, the "bikers" in the group would have to ride their pants off to close on the "runners" who have the 1.5-2 min lead. These runners would also have to ride their pants off to hold off the "bikers". Either way, everyone would have to swim hard-run hard-bike hard. Right now there is lots of swim hard-bike easy-run hard. Plus a sprint finish on the bike is more exciting than some skinny runner dude surging at 6 K and running solo for the final 4 K :-).
Another exciting format would be individual time trial format. with one athlete leaving every 30 seconds, no drafting. The entire 50 person field would be off within 25 min, and the 30 second gap is sufficient to ensure no drafting in the water.
I'm sorry T2 and the rest of you guys, but I'd have to challenge you to try actually riding in an ITU WC bike leg.
Anyone who thinks that these guys just sit back and relax are having a joke! I have a few friends who do the series, one an excellent runner, the other an excellent swimmer - both now tell me that the way triathlon is going is towards the bike.
The skill is no longer just riding an all out tt and saving some for the run, it is coping with hard efforts, short recovery for 40k and still running 31-32 minutes for a 10k after!
It is a shame that Macca and Walto are moving to IM mainly the same with Spence, but dont think there wont be bikers any more - the 2 guys I've mentioned, both brits - along with stu hayes have been working theyr buts of on the bike (stu showed this at Salford) and will rip the field apart next season!
Here in Montana we have "Peaks to Prairies" which is run then bike then kayak. Its interesting. I would like to see a tri done run, bike then swim. I am not the greatest runner as far as speed but my endurance is Ok. Do the run ,catch up on the bike. the swim being at the end takes away a lot of the advantage the great swimmers have. I do theses things for fun and like the idea ofthe different ways to do things. Tri"s are becoming more exclusive and more only for the elites(just look at articles for beginners,they all say you should have only a tri bike not road bikes. How many of the general public can afford a seperate bike for tri"s)The whole triathalon thing took off because its appeal to the general public. Now it seems to be going the other way. Different races to bring more appeal would be great. There will always be the races for the serious.top competiters.
I think that the ITU needs to hold more of their races on courses like Cornerbrook, Newfoundland, where it is so hilly and tough on the bike that stud riders can break away and the "wheel suckers" get exposed quickly. Instead, too many are relatively flat loops that (although you have to do short sprints every now and then to keep with the group) will allow a fit triathlete who is not a bike stud, ample opportunity to save his/her energy for the run.
As a runner turned triathlete though, I like having the run at the end :)
I remember watching a draft legal race on tv and after it was over, the 2nd and 3rd place pro females complained that the winner was able to get ahead of them on the swim and then draft some guys and was fresh for the run. I think If you come out the water 30 seconds or later, that you have to excert more effort to catch the lead person, If you catch them on the bike, they can draft you and wait for the run. I don't like draft legal racing. But, when I'm tired on the bike........
Hey Paul, just wondering, what is wrong with skinny runners in triathlons? I was thinking about changing my handle to SkinnyTriRunner ;)
"Triathletes are a fairly driven bunch and moderation is not often in their nature" - Jeff Devlin
This is actually a great idea for the pros, but I would be a little concerned for us rank and file types. I am a little worried about a shoulder to shoulder filed sprint while dressed only in a Speedo with a bunch of guys doing it for the first time. I do agree it would make for a excellent TV. I like non-draftng because it brings new people (and customers!) into the sport and I get to have an OK race even when I'm out of shape (most of the time).
The Tri Shop.com
A couple of comments from a "newbie" (last year was my first full season, mostly sprints.)
I have tried doing Crits and road racing, and, for me, one of the best things about tri's is that it is almost a purely individual sport. I found that Crits esp. tended to be very elitist, as opposed to the sprints that I have done, where even though I always finished in the last 25%, they treated me (and everyone else) like we had just won the race!
I would really hate to see tri's go the same route as the crits. I always got the feeling that the "real" racers were doing me a big favor just letting me ride. (And God forgive you if you can't keep up with the pack!)
I totally agree. I've been talking about this to friends for the last couple of years. The bike portion of the race should come last because team tactics, drafting and all the stuff that make "draft-legal" racing fun to watch are totally negated in the current ITU format (to this end, was it was Chris McCormack who suggested triathletes chop wood for an hour instead of ride the bike leg?). The speed and two-wheeled chessmatch of a good bike race is far more exciting than a foot race.
No sidewindin bushwackin, hornswaglin, cracker croaker is gonna rouin me bishen cutter!
Bike last, eh? Have ANY of the people promoting this idea ever been a race director? Do you have ANY idea of what it would take to establish a finish line that would actually work? Consider this:
1. The finish line is usually near the transition, which is near the swim, which means it is almost certainly one of the lowest places on the course. Which means in turn that the last stretch before the finish is either flat or downhill, which means the speeds could be upwards of 30 mph.
1. Any idea of how long a chute you'd need just to get people safely stopped?
2. Any idea of how wide the chute would have to be in order to handle the bell curve?
3. Most races are chip-timed, and the full-sized mats are 4 meters wide. Big races like the Boston Marathon used two sets of full-sized mats, with one of them "flipped" -which means their finish is 8-meters wide. How wide would a triathlon finish line have to be in order to accomodate a bell curve finish on the bike?
4. Full mats are expensive - which is fine and dandy if you have 20,000 runners over which to apportion the costs. But in a 1000-person race, the per-person cost could get pretty steep.
5. Most triathlons are timed with "mini-mats", which are only 1 meter wide. How many bikes could you get side-by-side in that circumstance? [Answer: about the same number you could get on the head of a pin.]
6. In order to read accurately, the chips have to be close to the mat. A criterium bike race can be timed by chip, but only if you place the chip low on the front fork. But in triathlon, the chip would have to be on the athlete's ankle for the swim and run legs - exactly how would you make that transfer - and if you didn't make the transfer, how would you deal with athletes who had their chip-leg "up" when crossing the finish line?
7. Chip mats are really much like mini-speed-bumps when laid on the pavement. Would there be an increase in accidents?
8. Many races do not have a finish on pavement. How would you handle that problem?
9. Bike courses have to be shared with the motoring public. Intersections have to policed, traffic has to be diverted. If you put the bike at the end, you will be (a) extending the time of use of the bike course even more than it is now, and (b) pissing off an even greater percentage of the non-triathlon public. Ever have to ask for next year's permit from a public official who had his/her ear chewed off by an array of inconvienced motorists after the previous year's race?
There have been a few swim/run/bike formats over the years - the Texas Triathlon in College Station was one of the most prominent. But they had most of the problems I've described (in fact, the timing problems were worse in the pre-chip era - it was tough to spot numbers in a bunch finish) and the race disappeared a number of years ago.
I'm only referring to Professionals on the ITU circuit. I completely agree that such a format would be impossible for age groupers.
No sidewindin bushwackin, hornswaglin, cracker croaker is gonna rouin me bishen cutter!
Folks...perhaps a bit of confusion. I was advocating this format for ITU draft legal racing, not day in day out age group racing. That being said in 1990, I organized a series of 4 duathlons in Ottawa Canada which were 10K run followed by 30K bike. The biking was not draft legal, so all the usual rules applied. All the races were won by athletes who were strong in both events.
By the way, I have nothing against skinny runners. I am 5 fott 6 inches, and 140 lbs :-). I just like to see big powerful guys on the bike like Craig Walton getting a fair shot at winning races :-)
Lew, the Y100 Boerne Triathlon in south Texas is 1ms/6.4mr/21mb, is the Texas State Championship and been this format for quite a few years.
I know Michigan, Ohio, & Indiana quite well - no bike-last races there. You know of one in Texas, and then there's the Winona Classic in Florida - but the latter is one of necessity, given that the swim is nearly two miles from the nearest paved road. That's two races so far, out of perhaps 1,600 total in the 50 States. Maybe there's a reason the format didn't catch on.
As for limiting it to the ITU format, their bell curve can be even more intimidating than that of a fair-sized age group race. Large packs, going VERY fast, with the difference between first and 11th in a bunch sprint being $8,000 or more. The insurance underwriters would love, I'm sure, those 20-bike pileups - and permits for the second and third time around would be NO problem.