By Kent Gray/Triathlon.kiwi in Hamburg
Hayden Wilde is banking on eight weeks of altitude-style training getting him through the taxing eliminator format and past great British rival Alex Yee at the World Triathlon Sprint & Relay Championships in Hamburg.
The Kiwi No.1 bypassed the fifth round of the World Triathlon Championship Series in Montreal last month to prep for a busy end to the short course season which begins in the beautiful Germany city.
Olympic 1500m rep Sam Tanner has enchanced Wilde’s buildup with a stint of training in Andorra while coach Craig Kirkwood has also jetted into the Whakatane/Maltese Falcon’s new European base.
The goal is to eclipse his silver medal to Yee at last year’s Sprint worlds in Montreal, kick on to WTCS Sunderland (July 29-30) and ultimately take care of a nomination to the NZOC for next year’s Olympic Games by being the highest ranked Kiwi to podium at the August 16-20 test event in Paris. Thereafter, he’d love to avenge last year’s near miss and eventual drift to third overall by clinching the WTCS title at the World Triathlon Championship Finals in Pontevedra in late September.
A constant threat through all that racing, and Super League season V which begins in London on August 27, will be Yee. The Brit has narrowly had the wood on Wilde in the past two years, including edging the 25-year-old Kiwi the last time they lined up at WTCS Cagliari on May 27.
Typically, Wilde has left no stone unturned in his efforts to reverse those fortunes, beginning in Hamburg where the super sprint distance (300m swim, 7.5km bike, 1750m run) will be used for the first time to find the sprint world champion. Worst case scenario, it will see Wilde race five times over two days before going again in the World Triathlon Mixed Relay Championship on Sunday (early Monday NZT), a race which carries the lure of an automatic Olympic slot, and four individual starts as a result, for Paris.
Wilde is ready for whatever comes his way.
“Training has gone extremely well. I’ve got my team here, Sam Tanner is here, which has been really nice to have some extra training partners, also Craig [Kirkwood],” Wilde told Triathlon.kiwi after fronting a World Triathlon press conference in Hamburg.
“I’ve been in Andorra where my new home in Europe is. Yeah, eight weeks of training hard, it’s kind of not at altitude but at altitude at the same time. I live just around 1000 metres so I don’t have to do anything special coming down. With people living above 1600m, they normally have to come down a week or two earlier so it’s really nice that I don’t have to do anything too special.
“So yeah, excited but it feels a bit different heading into this race, just because it’s been a while since I’ve raced Cagliari in May, so it’s been 8 weeks. I normally race once or twice every month but I’ve had a really good preparation and I’m looking forward to racing.”
Wilde did sneak an unscheduled French Grand Prix start into his training and won coming from behind in Bordeaux. But Hamburg promises to be an altogether tougher assignment with Wilde hoping to advance directly to Saturday’s finals (early Sunday NZT) by finishing in the top 10 of Qualifier 2 on Friday (6:35pm NZT). That would avoid the need to race a repechage later on Friday local time and send Wilde directly to the 30-athlete finals (from 2:20am Sunday NZT).
The finals will be raced over three stages, with 10 athletes eliminated at each stage to leave 10 racing for the title by stage 3.
“With this sort of racing you’ve got to be super smart,” Wilde said.
“You want to race not too hard on Friday but enough to have a good position on the pontoon that sets you up for Saturday. But you also don’t want to race too hard and use a lot of your top end in the first two rounds.”
Wilde is particularly cognisant of the break between races. It’s Super League-esque but unlike the typical five-minute breaks between SLT races, it’s over an hour in Hamburg necessitating constant bouts of warming up and down.
“It’s a pretty big task to race three days in a row [with the relay on Sunday/early Monday NZT], especially racing high intensity. It’s great for spectators but it definitely hurts us.
“So it’s not just the racing you have to be proactive about, but between the races too. It’s going to be crucial to have a really good protocal for warm up and warm down and stay out of the heat.
“It’s going to be, more or less, around 31 degrees [on Saturday] so to be smart between the races is going to be super important, I think more important that the races themselves.”
Wilde will be joined by Kiwi teammates Dylan McCollough and waitlist call-up Janus Staufenberg in Qualifier 2 which features Matt Hauser, Kristian Blummenfelt and recent World Cup Tiszaujvaros winner Csongor Lehmann.
Taylor Reid and Saxon Morgan are the Kiwis in Qualifier 1 (6pm Friday NZT) with Yee, Vasco Vilaca, Jelle Geens and Gustav Iden among the big names they’ll face on the start pontoon.
In the women’s races, Nicole van der Kaay and Oliver Thornbury will line up against the likes of WTCS leader Taylor Spivey and British star Beth Potter in Qualifier 1 (8pm Friday NZT) while Ainsley Thorpe and Brea Roderick go in Qualifier 2 at 8:35pm Friday NZT alongside the likes of Summer Rappaport, Cassandre Beaugrand and Katie Zaferes.
The racing in Hamburg begins overnight with the Junior World Sprint Championships. U19 Kiwis Sophie Spencer and Hannah Prosser (3am Friday NZT) and Ben Airey and Finnley Oliver (5am Friday NZT) line up.
All the racing is on World Triathlon’s subscription service, Triathlonlive.tv, with the elite racing also featured on Sky Sport.