The frontrunners for the first Arena Games Triathlon powered by Zwift World Championship titles made it through to the finals in Singapore with Alex Yee overcoming a five-second penalty to keep his chances well and truly alive.
The athletes had to deal with oppressive heat as Arena Games Triathlon went outdoors for the first time, including a swim in Marina Bay Reservoir.
In the women’s, Britain’s Sian Rainsley produced a stunning display to be the fastest qualifier. The Brit was in total control in Heat 2 with her time of 28:33 the quickest in the women’s field on the day. Beth Potter also made it through from Heat 2. She finished almost a minute behind Rainsley, but was still comfortable with a 42 second advantage over third place Anabel Knoll.
The first heat went with form and was dominated by Jess Learmonth and Georgia Taylor-Brown. The gold medal winning duo had the chance to ease up in Stage 2 and conserve energy. Learmonth’s time of 28:36 was easily enough to win with Taylor-Brown 17 seconds back.
All the remaining athletes go into tomorrow morning’s repechage with six qualifying for the final later in the day.
Learmonth said:“It was really hard but I was able to ease up towards the end which was nice because it was so hot. It was job done and get ready for tomorrow.”
Taylor-Brown added: “The aim was to do the bare minimum to get through. I didn’t feel like I was trying hard but it was so hot. I went a bit harder for the first race and then it was more comfortable with your own space for the second one. We did what we needed to do and now we can chill out until 4pm tomorrow.”
Rainsley was understandably delighted with her performance and to be part of the four-strong British contingent to qualify automatically for the finals.
Rainsley said: “I think it’s quite obvious who the three main contenders are: Georgia Taylor-Brown, Beth Potter and Jess Learmonth. I train with those girls so I know what shape they are in as well. It’s amazing to be part of such a strong British team.”
Current Series leaders Justus Nieschlag and Aurelien Raphael made it safely into the finals. Munich winner Raphael and Yee made it through a stacked heat 3, which also included Max Stapley and Chase McQueen.
Raphael had the fastest time in the men’s heats with a 25:25 in which he again underlined his swimming prowess, this time in the open water of Marina Bay Reservoir. Yee showed his frustration as he was given a time penalty for having his towel out of his box, but composed himself to cruise through in 25:42.
Heat 1 saw a storming performance from Kenji Nener who went hard throughout as Marten Van Riel came home in second to ensure he also qualified automatically for the final.
Hayden Wilde made his Arena Games Triathlon debut in Heat 2 and showed he could well shake up the established order. While he is unlikely to win the title, his presence could have a big impact on who does.
He blasted through his heat in some style with a 25:35, the second fastest men’s time of the day, while Justus Nieschlag, who heads the points table alongside Raphael after his win in London, also made it safely through.
The athletes placed 3-7 and the five fastest losers have made it through to the two repechage tomorrow morning. The top two in each qualify for the final in the afternoon.
Wilde said: “It was absolutely awesome. I think we are the first people in the fresh water here and I had to get a gap on the first stage and played it easy in the second stage in the water and played my cards right and took it easy for the last 400m of the run. I love the heat and guys like Kenji and Marten will make it very intense so I look forward to that.”
A cyclist, tech geek at heart, a passion for new shiny things and a huge appetite for triathlon. I spend most of my time between managing two of the world's best triathletes and a traditional corporate life.