Last year the team sprint was a stress filled affair. I knew that the others would swim better than me, I would struggle on the bike, but the run should be okay. This year I was in the 2nd team and expected a fairly easy day out, which is pretty much what happened to be fair!
The water temperature was 18°C after a few warmer days, so we swam. The team was made up of two youths, Alex and Janik, and a guy I had never met Danny and me. I had trained on the bike with Janik and Alex a little before the race, cycling isn’t their strength. Danny would be a dark horse, but he didn’t seem too confident in his swim!
We started at 15:23 and I knew straight away that I wasn’t the slowest swimmer. I feel like I swam well for me, even though I had water in my goggles from metre 1 onwards. Either I swam a weird line, or others did, as I could see people swimming way off to my right and left at different times during the swim! Soon enough I was out of the water in just over 12 minutes and on my way into T1.
I was told that I was the first TCECler, but I was actually 20 seconds behind Janik. We got out of our wetsuits, I put on my socks, start number was on and helmet too before Alex came around the corner. He too managed to get completely changed and ready and wait a while before Danny arrived. I helped him with his wetsuit and start number, then we were off. It felt like we waited an age for him, but it was actually 3.5 minutes.
Off we set on the bike and I went to the front to control the tempo. Last year we started too fast and blew up, this year I wanted a more controlled pace. Unfortunately even this controlled pace was too fast for the youngsters, so I had to back off some more. The first lap was a learning experience, trying not to drop Janik and Alex!
The next 2 laps went much better, we controlled the pace better so that we could stay in a group. We weren’t riding fast, but we were together as a team, after the 3rd lap came T2. I had a strangely good change and I was out well before the others. I had to stop myself as I didn’t want to risk getting the team DQ’s if they were too far behind.
We set off the run and I had no idea what to expect. The pace was decent and we started overtaking teams fairly quickly. After 1-2km Alex started to fall back but the other two seemed strong. Danny hung in behind so I didn’t try to push the pace too much in case he hit a wall. After the 1st lap all was good but Danny was starting to wane. I gave him a push now and then as best I could, but it isn’t too easy to do, especially from just one side.
When we reached the top of the hill, Danny had a 2nd wind and Janik seemed to start to struggle. We still kept up a decent pace though and I tried to get a good sprint going at the end to catch a team in front of us (it is irrelevant if you catch someone as we start at different times, but as a goal it seemed to work). We crossed the line for 8th place from 13 team, so pretty much in the middle.
It was a shame that we had weaknesses in each discipline that cost us a lot of time. We had the slowest bike split in the league by more than a minute, only to have the 2nd best run! Our swim time for the first 3 swimmers was decent too, but that isn’t how it works.
Anyway, the 1st team were flying and I’m not sure that I would have kept up with them on the bike and run and they swam a minute faster than me too, so I am happy to have been the big fish in the small pond today.