This is the follow-up on our enunciation to find solutions in order to make triathlon more television friendly and help drive more interest in the sport. Contrary to the belief that triathlon is not entertaining enough for TV, we believe fans lack reference points to properly appreciate it.
Contrary to other endurance sports, elite triathlon does not require the same specificities for fans. An age grouper will race according to his capacities, following self-imposed paces for each leg of the sport. The elite on the other hand will need to continually change pace to adapt to race dynamics. All of this remains a very abstract concept for the un-initiated.
Anaerobic starts, hard pushes out of curves at more than 600 watts, and working to take the lead. It is difficult to make out all these peaks in power when only presented with images. Furthermore, the producers are prone to focus on the race leaders rather than those who are behind and on whom the race dynamics are being imposed.
Unfortunately, since the arrivals into T2 happen in groups, it always leaves the impression that there hasn’t been a selection process over the bike leg and that everything just went over smoothly. This is generally false.
How to change these preconceptions?
Let’s not lie to ourselves: long distance athletes usually denigrate short distance racing. When Laurent Vidal courageously published the power data for one of his races on a forum, some forum participants simply said that his power meter was not properly calibrated because, to them, the bike leg for non-drafting races was obviously harder.
That isn’t the case. They are just very different. Whereas an ITU athlete has to constantly vary his effort, a long distance athlete aims at holding an optimal intensity.
Ironically, we notice that even the athletes emerging on the ITU circuit have difficulties mastering and delivering on these requirements. Training on a group ride or racing a ‘crit’ inadequately simulates short distance racing conditions.
Are you in a position to interpret the requirements of an ITU race solely by examining power data?
The ITU has had the excellent initiative of mounting cameras on bikes. This serves as a reminder that some teams racing on the cycling World tour will also film more races. Even if the images are impressive, they are still inadequate in conveying the athlete’s effort [as well as the racing dynamics].
There still remains an opportunity however. It would be easily be possible to associate the video images with intensity levels. Sufferfest does this very well. This would make it easier to better understand the athlete’s effort and could also serve an educational role.
Given that numerous athletes a fighting for financing, we should give them the option to mount a camera to their bikes in order to later sell the video linked to a file with intensity levels. This would allow young athletes to familiarise themselves with WTS requirements, while also fuelling amateurs’ dreams.
This could also be applied to the French grand prix as well as to long course racing.