Races › Arena Games
29 Mar 2021
6 min read
Arena Games 2021
27 Mar 2021
Max heart rates of 209bpm, swimmers that improved their efficiency the more fatigued they became and some lightning fast racing – the story of the SLT Arena Games Powered by Zwift is more complex than it seems.
WATCH AGAIN: SLT ARENA GAMES LONDON
With the whole event being monitored by the Garmin Ecosystem, from the athlete weigh-ins on the Index S2 Smart Scale, the bike legs on the Tacx Neo 2T turbos, heart rate measured using the HRM Pro and additional data generated by the Forerunner 945, we have a better understanding than ever before as to where the racing was won and lost.
For the data geeks we will delve very deep very soon, but for those who want to understand what they saw the best in the world produce on the day, here’s a few of the best snapshots thanks to our partnership with Garmin, who are the official performance data provider to the SLT Arena Games:
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Beth Potter’s remarkable ability to recover was key to her victory. At the end of the second stage of racing she had a heart rate of 174. By the time stage three began just moments later she had brought that down to 135.
Being further up the field of course played a big role, giving her a few extra moments to reset and catch her breath.
The compound punishment of finishing further down the field was clear from Ruth Astle’s heart rate. She finished the second stage at 161 and had only dropped to 152 by the start of the third.
Even with a stacked field, there were only three athletes in the hunt for top spot on the podium from the first minute right through until the end.
Beth Potter, Lucy-Charles-Barclay and Sophie Coldwell dominated throughout. Not only were they the top three come the final reckoning, but they also were almost unmoveable from the podium positions in every stage.
Only Rachel Klamer disrupted that order when in the final stage she finished third. Even then Coldwell was only one place further back in fourth.
Having already been to the Olympics as a 10,000m runner, it’s not exactly a huge shock that Potter’s run was her standout asset. But it was the key to victory.
In the crucial third stage she completed her 1km in 3:23, a full ten seconds ahead of her nearest rival Lucy Charles-Barclay and eight seconds in front of Sophie Coldwell.
Beth’s bike was expected to be a weak point, but the difference between her and the other women was negligible.
In stage one when the athletes were freshest, Rachel Klamer and Georgia Taylor-Brown had the best stats at 4.9 watts per kg, but Potter was only narrowly off of that at 4.7 watts per kg.
She hung on superbly, but some of the more experienced Zwift riders and traditionally stronger cyclists may wonder whether they did enough to try and push her on the bike section and thus paid the price.
Using Garmin’s Swolf score gives a good picture of swim efficiency when measured in a pool. It’s calculated by adding together the number of strokes taken in the pool length, and the time it took to swim that length.
Most athletes saw their efficiency get worse as they tired – no real surprise there. Beth Potter’s held roughly the same, even though she is not considered to be a strong swimmer.
The standout was Sophie Coldwell who, quite remarkably, improved her swim efficiency as the event went on, improving in each round even though she was presumably tiring.
Most of the individual records set by Jess Learmonth in Rotterdam fell in London.
Lucy Charles-Barclay edged the swim time by just one second, lowering the SLT Arena Games record from 2:12 to 2:11 in stage one.
The bike went from 5:36 to 5:28, which was recorded by Lucy Charles-Barclay, Alice Betto and Anna Godoy.
Beth Potter secured the fastest ever run time at 3:14, taking four seconds off the previous mark.
We expected Alex Yee to be lightning fast on the run, but not as many people thought Gordon Benson would be able to match him.
In the second stage which began with a run, the athletes were trying to forge ahead and give themselves a buffer, partially Yee for whom the swim, which was up next, is his weaker leg.
He clocked 2:51 for 1km on the self powered curved treadmills, which was matched by Benson. Marten Van Riel was one second back and Jonathan Brownlee a further second behind.
Yee’s run ability is underlined by the fact his three run splits all featured in the top six overall for the day.
Marten Van Riel’s victory was a win for consistency. He wasn’t outstanding in one particular discipline or one stage, rather producing a very level performance throughout to take the gold medal.
His fastest and slowest swim splits only varied by five seconds across the three stages, his bike by nine seconds and his run by six seconds.
He was the only man to finish in the top three in each stage of the event.
Marten Van Riel’s heart rate was remarkably low throughout. At the end of the second stage when we can assume he was maxing out given he won the stage by just one second, it was just 156. His recovery was similarly remarkable. By the start of stage three he was at 114.
Justus Nieschlag, who finished second, was 181 at the end of stage two and dropped to 130 for the start of stage three. Bronze medallist Alex Yee went from 178 to 133.
Gordon Benson. Wow.
His amazing 2:51 run split alongside Alex Yee was certainly hard work. Benson recorded the highest heart rate of the day during his epic sprint, a whopping 209.
You have got to feel for Vasco Vilaca. The Portuguese star finished second in the SLT Arena Games in 2020 and looked set to be really competitive again when he took the win in stage one and scooped the full ten points.
But the fine margins of the SLT Arena Games format were laid bare on stage two. Slightly off the pace in the run at the start of stage two, he jumped on the bike just a couple of seconds back, but it made all the difference.
A lead pack featuring the likes of Jonny Brownlee, Alex Yee and Justus Nieschlag were away. Vilaca put down some serious power to try and bridge the gap. He couldn’t manage it and burned matches in the process. By the end of the stage he was 45 seconds back of Van Riel and collected just three points, giving him little recovery time for stage three and effectively ending his hopes for a return to the podium.
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