No. That was rhetorical. It’s an all out effort, so by definition it is as hard as you an go. The real question is: does drafting make the bike leg so easy that it doesn’t test anyone? I don’t think so. People still get dropped (though not in the World Cups so much, but how many people did you see getting dropped in the Giro?), and the stronger cyclists end up with bigger advantage than the guys struggling to hang on.
My first ITU race was last year in Poland. I remember half way through the eight laps thinking that people had the wrong impression of draft legal triathlon. Staying with the group was hard. Every turn (and ITU usually has plenty of them) triggered a sprint. Every time we passed the transition area was a sprint, and all this after a 2 minute all out effort just to get into the lead pack after coming out of the water a whopping 9 seconds back from the leaders. In Mazatlan I had one of the toughest bike segments in a triathlon ever. It was partially the heat, but more so trying to keep up with Matt Chrabot and gain time over the chase group behind us. Sprinting out of corners, sprinting to impress spectators, the stress of riding with some not-so-great bike handlers – it makes for a tough 40km bike ride. Unlike non-drafting races, you can’t just ride at your threshold for an hour. You’re either redlining or trying to recover on somebody’s wheel. The real problem with draft-legal racing is not that the cycling is too easy, it’s that you can ride your hardest and still end up starting the run within seconds of 20 other people.
In Seoul I decided to put my Garmin Forerunner 305 on my bike to illustrate just how variable these efforts can be. Today I finally uploaded the course to Motionbased. I started the watch a little while into the course after I had put my Northwave Tribal Shoes on, had some delicious Clif Shot Electrolyte Drink (Cran Raz of course), and finally remembered that my Garmin was strapped to the stem of my bike. Click the “motionbased” link above to see the race metrics. Below is a map of the course, which is pretty cool.