You have to be a well-rounded long-distance triathlete to win a race with terrain like Nice. Light, but strong. The elevation gain of about 2400 meters over the 180 km cycling stage suggests that, unlike Kona, those who show maximum watts per kilogram of weight while running fast may have the advantage. Nice is no place for uberbikers.
Swimming as usual, but there are nuances. If at a triathlon with a flat bike stage, slow swimmers can afford to fall behind by 5 minutes and make up the lost time on the bike leg, this is not the case in the mountains of Nice. In Nice the groups swam tighter, trying to stay together. The gap in the swim between the first and second groups was no more than 2 min.
Problems for uberbikers.
Watching the bike stage in Nice, we clearly saw how quickly the groups were torn apart. On flat bike legs at other races, the stronger cyclists — the Uber-bikers — set the pace in the group and drag everyone along. Even the non-drafting rule (mandatory 12 meters between cyclists) allows the slower ones to stay in the group for a long time at about 45 km/h. In the mountains, these tactics don’t work. There is not the slightest opportunity to rest — at a speed of 20 km/h you have to push the necessary watts taking into account your own weight (watts per kg), so that you don’t fall off.
>4,5 watts per kilogram on the uphill.
What does weight have to do with it? Gravity works in the mountains — you are not moving on a horizontal road, but upwards with a gradient of 3–6%. In such conditions, a more powerful rider with more weight loses to a lighter rider with presumably less power in the legs.
Above 300 watts for 70 kg is a power pro men had to push during 20+ km uphill in Nice. For 80 kg the minimal acceptable power grows to 340 watts. Smaller Laidlow and Lange had a natural advantage over bigger Ditlev and TT-specialist from INEOS Grenadiers Cam Wurf.
Solid downhill technique.
The 2nd most important element on the bike stage was the downhill technique. For triathletes who prefer to ride in a straight line and in aero position, riding fast descents is not an easy task. Firstly, you can’t cross the center line, so you can’t cut across the apex. Secondly, you have to constantly change from bars to handles, as only the most technical and brave can go downhill in aero position. Thirdly, it is important to choose the ideal trajectory of descent to minimize the use of brakes and loss of speed. Laidlaw, van Berg, and Lange were the best at this.
Decent watts on the downhill.
We paid attention to the wattage the riders were putting out on the descents. Lange was pushing 200 watts downhill, the others between 160 and 180 watts. A common amateur mistake is to give it all on the uphill, exhaust yourself, and take a rest on the downhill. Those who balance power up and down can win up to 10 minutes on the 10 km descent.
Magic bottle under the swimsuit.
On the bike stage, many people put a water bottle under their swimsuits. This was done by Laidlaw, Ditlev, and many others. The look of such participants is certainly strange, but the benefits are obvious: additional aerodynamics, an extra bottle just in case, and the drink you need.
Lange’s record for a marathon.
In general, the run in Nice was very fast despite the heat. The temperature had risen to 30 degrees, but the relatively low humidity of 44% left it possible to run fast. Patrick Lange, in his 37 years, ran like crazy and once again set a record by running 42.2 km in an amazing 2 hours 32 minutes 41 seconds or 3:40 min/km. One can safely use his running technique as a benchmark for triathlon running. Back in 2016 at Ironman 70.3 in Rügen, Germany, I was lucky enough to run with him on the same course — even then it was clear that Patrick would go far with this crazy fast running.
Probably 15–20 thousand spectators at the run course.
The run took place along the Promenade des Anglais, the most popular promenade on the Côte d’Azur. This attracted an incredible number of spectators, non-stop cheering the athletes. It was nothing compared to a lonely run through the lava fields of Kona. A great spectacle for fans and cool support for the competitors!
Hidden Lange pockets.
On the run, more and more participants are using the inside pockets of their starting swimsuits to carry nutrition and liquids. This is better than a belt with a bottle on the outside that bounces with every step. The first to use such innovation was Patrick Lange back in 2018, so these pockets became known as “Lange pockets”.
Debut victory for France on Ironman World Championship.
Sam Laidlaw (24) made history and won the first-ever Ironman World Championship for France and himself. He also became the youngest-ever winner.
Viva la France!
PS. Uberbikers are triathletes specializing in cycling, who are able to produce maximum power (in watts) and develop maximum speed, thus creating the necessary advantage over the runners.
OMY! Sports. Your virtual endurance sports coach.