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COVID racing reality: Super League Arena games

Jessica Learmonth and Justus Nieschlag take the first Super League Triathlon event of 2020

Photo by: That Cameraman/Darren Wheeler/Superleague triathlon

The crazy realities of racing during the COVID-19 pandemic saw a mix of real-life competition and e-racing today in Rotterdam for the Super League Triathlon Arena Games. Fields of 10 men and women competed in a Triple Mix – three rounds of racing a 200 m swim in a 50 m pool, a 4 km bike on a Tacx Neo2T smart trainer and a 1 km run on self-powered curved treadmills. The first round was a traditional swim/ bike/ run, the second was a bike/ run/ swim and the final leg consisted of a run/ swim/ bike.

Photo gallery: Super League Triathlon Arena Games Rotterdam – photos: That Cameraman/Darren Wheeler/Superleague triathlon

Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth dominated the women’s race, leading the way through all three legs, earning the maximum 10 points in all three legs. The Netherlands’ Rachel Klamer took second after taking the sprint on the bike in the final leg to hold off Belgium’s Valerie Barthelemy.

“The Triple Mix format was so hard,” Learmonth said. “It felt absolutely horrendous as I felt smashed after the first stage. I had a massive advantage with my swim as it doesn’t take that much out of me and I can recover in the pool. I’ve never done anything this hard before as it’s the thinking of different things, such as picking up your goggles and remembering I had to swim after the treadmill run [in Stage 3]. You always need to be thinking of other things. It’s great being back racing. I was apprehensive as I haven’t raced since the 2019 Tokyo test event and I didn’t know what to expect. It’s amazing that Super League have put this on for us and we really appreciate it because I know it was difficult.”

Photo: That Cameraman/Darren Wheeler/Superleague triathlon
Women’s Leaderboard

  1. Jessica Learmonth (Great Britain) – 30
  2. Rachel Klamer (Netherlands) – 23
  3. Valerie Barthelemy (Belgium) – 22
  4. Natalie Van Coevorden (Australia) – 20
  5. Georgia Taylor-Brown (Great Britain) – 19
  6. Maya Kingma (Netherlands) – 14
  7. Leonie Periault (France) – 13
  8. Ilaria Zane (Italy) – 11
  9. Anne Haug (Germany) – 9
  10. Quinty Schoens (Netherlands) – 4

For a full women’s report click here

Photo: That Cameraman/Darren Wheeler/Superleague triathlon

Nieschlag’s consistency pays off

Germany’s Justus Nieschlag took the second stage of the race, and won a group sprint in the final leg that enabled him to take the win over Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca. Spain’s Javier Gomez took third thanks to a runner up finish in the final leg of the race. (Three men tied with 20 points for third, but the final standings were decided by placement in the final leg.)

“I never thought I could come and win here as I haven’t raced for more than one year,” Nieschlag said. “It feels amazing as I hadn’t even thought about winning this race. It was all about tactics today and not going too hard at the beginning. I swam well today and my transitions were good and that was key for succeeding here.”

“I didn’t think I’d make third place overall after a pretty tough start to the day,” Gomez said. “If you make a small mistake in this type of racing, then you’ll pay for it. I didn’t expect to be on the podium overall, so I’m really pleased. It’s not the favourite distance of an older guy like me but it was really fun as well. I raced a French Grand Prix event yesterday and the trip to get here was horrendous, with everything going wrong. I slept for four hours and I felt it most in the first triathlon, but I’m proud to have been competitive against some of the best guys at these shorter distances.”

Men’s Leaderboard

  1. Justus Nieschlag (Germany) – 24
  2. Vasco Vilaca (Portugal) – 22
  3. Javier Gomez (Spain) – 20
  4. Jonathan Brownlee (Great Britain) – 20
  5. Jonas Schomburg (Germany) – 20
  6. Pierre Le Corre (France) – 17
  7. Alois Knabl (Austria) – 13
  8. Richard Murray (South Africa) – 11
  9. Donald Hillebregt (Netherlands) – 10
  10. Marco van der Stel (Netherlands) – 8

For a full men’s report click here