Race Preview: Ironman 70.3 World Championship

Credit: Jesse Thomas

IM 70.3 World Championships

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Sam Appleton

You have been over in Austria for a bit now–what do you think of the course? Everyone is talking about the climb on the bike. Is it all that it is cracked up to be?

I got to Zell am See last Wednesday so i have had some time to check out the course. It provides amazing scenery thats for sure! As for the climb, its pretty long but most of it is a steady gradient that could be managed in the aero bars. The last 2km kicks up to about 15% which is the true climbing part. Hopefully i can get the strava segment for this part of the climb #stravahunting 😉

This is your first Worlds 70.3 experience and you are coming into it with some strong races this season. However, the podium finishers from last year come in with all the pressure. Does this allow you to fly slightly under the radar and just focus on executing your best race?

I think i am still flying under the radar (well i hope anyway). The only pressure i feel is what i put upon myself but i am going into this race with nothing to lose and everything to gain. I am really excited to get out there and test myself against the best guys in the world!

What about the run course? No one is talking it with all the bike course pictures on Instagram.

I’ve run along the run course a few times. It is very scenic as it follows a path right next to the lake. Its mainly flat with a couple of little pinches thrown in there. It should allow for some quick run times!

JesseTJesse Thomas

The build up to Worlds this year has been different than last year. Are you coming into the race feeling more refreshed and ready to rumble vs. 2014 when you had to race, race, race to secure your spot?

In short, yes. At least I hope so. I certainly have raced less and feel like I have more matches in my book this year than I did when I started in Mt. Tremblant. But I’ve also trained my ass off and really tried to make a jump for this race, so it will be a balance of how fit I am and how fresh I am. I know I’m very fit, probably the best shape of my career, but I’m just hoping I’m not too buried going into the race to get the most out of myself. The competition here is unreal, so I could have a great race and not finish in the top 10, we’ll just have to see how it goes.

You have been on the course for a few days now. What do you think? Everyone is talking about the climb on the bike but have you noticed anything else? The run looks pretty flat from the profile so do you anticipate some really fast running out there?

I’d anticipate some very fast running, the only caveat being that people are likely going to destroy themselves on that bike ride, which may tether it a bit. The climb is legit and will hopefully break up the field a bit, or allow slower swimmers like me to make up some time. But there’s also a lot of riding left after that climb, so there will probably be some guys that blow themselves up a little too much. We’ll see!

MAGMagali Tisseyre

Has preparation for the race gone well? Just consistent work for about five weeks, correct?

Yes, the preparation has gone well. In the last five weeks, I just kept on doing the same kind of thing I have been doing all season. I was feeling quite tired before the taper started but feeling great now!

We have heard the descent is pretty technical? Do you think this will break up the groups as well?

YES!! The descent is pretty technical. Nothing crazy but enough to separate people for sure! It’s such a cool course. It will go by super fast, always different sections, always something to focus on and it seems that it will be very spectator friendly too. So much help for fast racing…haha 

Any changes to bike gearing/wheel choice due to the course? I hear the final 2k of the climb are at 15%. 

When I rode the climb the other day, the 11-28 and compact gear worked just great. The bottom of the climb is very gradual and the top is steep but not as terrible as it has been reported to be. Well…I say this now, but I bet that it’s going to hurt pretty bad in the middle of that ride…haha. I am riding a disc too. Same set up I have had at most of the hilly races I have done, I won’t lose much on the climb and gain a lot in some of those downhills.

Do you think the course will break everyone up creating more solo efforts up front vs. a big group riding together? 

I think that this course will separate people. I think once the hill starts we will see packs dissolve.

Lauren BarLauren Barnett

Raleigh 70.3 was a very strong race for you. Did you gain confidence from coming such a close second behind an athlete like Meredith Kessler?

Meredith Kessler is such a rock star – inside and outside the realm of triathlon. She is a world class athlete, and as I look to take my career in that same direction, I definitely came away from that race more confident in my abilities.  

Are you excited about the long climb on the bike? Do you think it will separate everyone a bit?

I am! Obviously we don’t have much climbing around the Dallas area but my coach has had me do a lot of low cadence, big gear work indoors on the trainer. I’m also riding a slightly different race set-up on the bike than I normally would to prepare for the long climb and still leave room for a fast go on the flats. I’m on an 11-28 cassette so I have an extra gear for the steep sections and can push higher watts with a higher cadence.  I’m also riding a Zipp 404 wheel in the front and an 808 rear wheel. This allows for a lighter total package going up the climb, yet I’m not losing an aero advantage by not riding the disc wheel according to my Best Bike Split and Wind Tunnel numbers. Lots of valuable information has been gathered over the course of the year so that I can wisely choose the best race day set up and it’s come in handy for a race like this one! And yes, I think everyone will have a different strategy for the climb so natural separation will occur. 

You are a very strong runner. Do you thrive on coming from behind and moving up during the run?

Thank you! It’s definitely fun to be pushing my way to the front on the run leg, but I’m trying to make less of a habit of that 😉 and more of a habit of being chased! 

Lauren BranLauren Brandon

The pro men only start 3 mins in front of the women. Are you worried about any interference at the start of the bike? Or, since it is the World Championship are you more comfortable since the men should just ride right by you???

Having the men start 3 minutes before the women is not ideal, but with this being a Championship race, I feel like it shouldn’t affect our race too much. I have had several races where I passed pro men in the swim and had to ride with and through them, but I have a feeling in Austria the guys will fly past me  (if I pass anyone in the water) and stay away.

There is a 13k (maybe it is 15k??) climb a little before the halfway point on the bike. Do you think this will serve as a decisive point in the race and break up the bike “groups”?

There is quite a climb in this race which will have a huge affect on the bike groups. I have been in California doing a lot of climbing and a 9 mile climb averaging 5% is tough! The descent will also play a huge role in the race.

Does the run course (flat, along the lake) suit you?

Haha… this question made me laugh. I think the only type of run course that suits me is one that gives only me a tail wind and if it’s short : ) I do enjoy flat run courses over hilly.

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The Triathlon Preview Show

This weekly podcast is your source for all information related to upcoming races in the world of Professional Triathlon. We will bring you analysis on how the races could play out, start list updates and input from the Professional athletes themselves. Hosted by Zach Miller, age group athlete and triathlon enthusiast and featuring input from Emily Cocks, a professional triathlete herself.

Episode 5 features the Ironman 70.3 World Championship preview with Elliot Bassett and Mark Bowstead

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About the Authors

Zach Miller
Zach Miller is a sports enthusiast and age group triathlete living in the The Woodlands, TX. He is the Host of The Triathlon Preview Show. The Triathlon Preview Show: iTunes Podcast
Emily is a professional triathlete and swim coach living in Napa, CA. Emily swam for the University of Michigan and completed her first tri in 2004 at the Chicago Triathlon. She worked for seven years as a paralegal, followed by three years as an Assistant Swim Coach for the University of Illinois-Chicago. Presently, she lives and trains in Napa, California while working for the Napa Valley Swim Team and coaching several age group triathletes.