London WCS has been and gone! The biggest race of the season, and what a great race it was. We saw the dress rehearsal for next year’s Olympics with the best field ever seen. To get a start in this race was a feat in itself and many had been scrambling all season just to be able to toe the line. Here’s how my day panned out.
Initially training for London I thought I would need to have the best run of my life and absolutely nail every aspect if I was to have a chance of getting a top 10 and qualifying for the games. Madrid, where I had my best result ever after I got into a breakaway early on the bike straight from the swim changed my mentality a bit going in. I started to focus a bit more on making sure I was right at the front out of the swim and ready to push the pace straight away on the bike. I’ve raced with and watched many times how Alistair Brownlee races. He and his brother get out of the swim and just try to absolutely nail the start of the bike, and when there are strong guys around him and willing to work they usually get away. The course in London was dead flat and quite open, meaning that it was not a course suited to breakaways, and most athletes seemed to believe this pre race. All I needed was for a few strong guys to believe like me that a group could get away and it would be possible. In the end I had a crack, rolled the dice but it didn’t quite go my way. You’ve probably seen the coverage of the race. I was 3rd out of the water feeling fantastic. I had prepared to be right there at the front, swimming 40km the week before the race and shaving my arms, armpits, everything! I felt great tucked in behind Jan Frodeno and Javier Gomez and could have probably led, but I couldn’t see where I was going with fogged up goggles.
The group was all together through transition, but I got on the bike and tried to get something going. Unfortunately only the Brownlees were keen to work and we soon had a group of 22 with a gap of about 20 secs to the second pack of the same number. Too big to work together effectively and a lot of guys just keen to sit in the pack for the next hour and save their legs for a fast run. Fair enough, most countries were using the race for Olympic selection and the field was tough, there would be no room for wasting energy unnecessarily. After a lap on the bike I was a bit gutted that plan A hadn’t worked and kept riding at the front to at least try and keep the lead we had over the chase pack. This soon led to someone losing my wheel through some corners, race favourite Alistair Brownlee and Alexander Bryukhankov jumping across to me, a few pedal strokes in anger and bam! Time for a breakaway!
We rode really hard and shared the work around evenly. We had a pretty small margin; 12 secs after one lap, 15 secs after 2. We were kind of in no man’s land, but committed to pushing on. Then it started to rain. Great. Then former world champion Ivan Rana managed to jump across the gap and joined us. Great! The 4 of us got really stuck in and slowly but surely extended our lead on the now 45 strong pack. I felt really strong on the bike, the S-Works SL3 was humming and I was loving it! My legs felt awesome and I wasn’t in any difficulty. I thought this was my day, I was going to need time off the bike to hold off the chase but I was feeling good. When we went around Buckingham Palace for the last time I saw the gap had gone out quite a bit to the chase pack which was all over the road looking at each other. It was an awesome moment. I started to believe I was going to do it. I was going to qualify!
When I got off the bike I had a reality check. My legs were smashed! We only had 1min 15 secs on the chasers and I would need to run close to my 10km PB to hold that top 10. If only we had had a few more guys like in Madrid. Then I would have probably been fresher and might have had a bit more of a gap. I could only watch as the wonder-kid Brownlee flew off as if he was sprinting, and then 3km later when his brother and Gomez caught me. I came right on the last lap, but it was far too late by then.
I was disappointed after the race as it’s not a nice feeling to have 35 guys pick you off one by one on the run and not be able to do anything about it. But I can take some positives from the race. I raced on the Olympic course against the best in the world and took it to them showing a breakaway there is possible. Actually it’s more likely next year as the Olympic field is smaller and weaker. I was on global TV for a long time, won a bike prime and rode as hard as I could and was still able to run a 32:55 run split. I’ve shown the NZ selectors I can swim and bike with anyone in the sport and could fit a swim-bike helper role at the Games. Although Bevan and Ryan had awesome races, no one has automatically qualified for the team, meaning I have another chance in Beijing in 5 weeks.
Now I’m in my old hometown in Sigmaringen in Southern Germany having a week rest before doing the World Sprint Champs in Lausanne Switzerland, then the Beijing Grand Final on the way home.