Is ITU draft legal racing easier the non-drafting?

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.

image 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.

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Published by Ben

Ben Collins Professional Triathlete

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  1. Is it easier if you’re Jarrod Shoemaker who makes the US team and then pretty much can’t make the lead pack ever again? He should give back his slot to someone who is at least going to try in the World CHampionships. At least he could have thrown up all over himself again for the spectators. He’s the Right Said Fred of ITU triathlon and I’m angry about it. I don’t like draft-style triathlon, it’s only fun for the spectators and for Javier Gomez.

  2. i don’t know many people think it’s easier. (no one really argues that cycling racing is easier either, well some people do, but they’re the same ones that think walking a marathon is harder than running a 10k.) rather, it’s that ITU is dumber.

  3. Dumber? if anything ITU is smarter. In draft legal racing you actually have to have a strategy, know who’s racing with you, and how to plan your move. Yeah, it’s not a test of who can blow the most CO2 out of their lungs, but it’s certainly not as mindless as non-drafting races.

    I love both styles. Actually I would probably be happiest if there was a non-drafting olympic event that took less than 30 minutes to complete. Maybe a 500m / 10km / 1600m. It should also all take place in a stadium, a 400m track surrounding a 50 meter pool and a velodrom. (a standard track is actually big enough to have both the 50×25 meter pool and the standard velodrom inside where the football field would normally go.) Personally, I think a pool and a velodrom are way more useful than another football field.

  4. i think i’d probably dislike itu racing for the same reasons i disliked cycling racing. sometimes, you don’t have to be the best to win.

    that’s actually an awesome idea though

  5. The best cyclist does win, though. Because cycling is a physical and mental sport. When you say the “best doesn’t win” you are saying the physically strongest doesn’t always win. The best cyclist does win however. It’s a tactical game, much like playing poker or chess. But while exerting yourself physically at the same time. And it’s a team sport, which makes it very different then triathlon even when draft-legal. They are really quite different sports. Anyway.

    Ben – Todd has been gone for a week, directing a team at Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minnesota. Our floors are getting dirty and need vacuuming……


  6. the stress of riding with some not-so-great bike handlers
    dude! no attacking chris here okay!? 😉

    when you getting to BoCo again. I lost my swim buddy… i need a new one.

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