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Sanders surprises with solid qualifying effort at Arena Games powered by Zwift Montreal

Canadian sets bike course record on way to finals appearance

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

If you talked to him yesterday, the chances of him making the final were pretty slim. In the end, he made it through to tonight’s live final with an impressive fourth-place finish in his heat, and is the fifth-fastest overall going into tonight’s event.

“The hard part is to get to the intensity,” Sanders said after the race. “My body doesn’t want to go there at all. The hard part is going there. To be honest with you, I feel like if we went five times in a row it would be better for me. Having to be on the line right off the bat. That’s what’s screwing me in racing – I’m not able to do that on the line, in the beginning. I’m stuck in the middle zone – that’s why I’d like to do these races.”

Despite warning us that he’d have to push to the limit to make it through, Sanders appeared to be in control, and was stronger through the second race of his heat than the first. He set the bike course record by two seconds with his 5:06 split today.

“I had to have faith that if I stayed below threshold and didn’t cross it too much, especially at the beginning, that I would be able to do the next round better,” he said. “I had to have patience and confidence in that strategy, it panned out. Don’t get me wrong, it hurt, but I wasn’t flooded (with lactic acid) – I wasn’t at the top of my threshold. If we did it five in a row, that would pay dividends.”

While he appeared to be in control and get stronger through the race, Sanders remained sceptical that he’d be able to compete for the win tonight.

“The guys in the front are not pushing,” he said. “From my standpoint I have already achieved my goal. I would like to have a respectable finish in the finals. I’ll used the same strategy. I can’t really use any other strategy – these guys have the capacity to go out really hard … I don’t have that. I don’t have that top gear, that capacity.”

Briand leads the way

Jeremy Briand in qualifying at the Arena Games Montreal

Canadian Jeremy Briand won Sanders’ heat and posted the day’s fastest time heading into the finals tonight.

“In front of the crowd like this, it was awesome,” the Quebec athlete said after his heat. “It’s not my first time doing this format, so I knew how to pace it. I managed the effort pretty well this morning. The goal is to do the same thing tonight. It looks like a fast format, but the fact that you have to repeat the rounds makes it hard. You have to be slightly in control.”

Canadian junior star Mathis Beaulieu joins fellow Canadians Briand and Beaulieu in the final tonight. Long-distance star Jackson Laundry ended up in 12th spot overall.

Sereno cruises through, Beaulieu leads Canadians

Noemie Beaulieu competes in the heats at the Arena Games Montreal

American Gina Sereno looked relaxed as she won the first heat today, leading the women into the final tonight. Canadian junior phenom Noemie Beaulieu was the fastest Canadian, finishing third in her heat.

“It was so much harder than I thought,” Beaulieu said after the race. “Doing two triathlons in a row is really hard, but with the atmosphere with everyone cheering on, it was fun.”

Canadians Dominika Jamnicky and Nataliia Kolesova also made it through to the final tonight.