Races › Arena Games
18 Apr 2021
3 min read
#Marco van der Stel
#Marten Van Riel
Belgian triathlete Marten Van Riel has demolished the field at the SLT Arena Games powered by Zwift today, scoring maximum Triple Mix points in Rotterdam ahead of a strong European field.
Three weeks after winning the inaugural Arena Games London title ahead of a stacked field of ITU and long-distance greats, the Belgian was back to stake his claim at the most dominant Super League triathlete around.
That dominance saw Van Riel win all three stages of the Triple Mix format, with Britain’s Alex Yee and French triathlete Aurelien Raphael his closest – but still distant – challengers in second and third, respectively.
The action in the Netherlands saw triathletes tasked with the SLT’s innovative Triple Mix format. The breakdown saw a swim-run-bike followed by a run-bike-swim before a deciding bike-swim-run. The 50m Olympic pool swim legs were 200m, the Tacx turbo/Zwift bike legs were 3km and the run was 1km, the latter on the unique curved treadmill.
The latest Arena Games saw a stacked field of Euro tri stars converge in Rotterdam, the Netherlands (which hosted the debut Arena Games in 2020). Super League regulars Van Riel, Germany’s Jonas Schomburg, Britain’s Alex Yee and Vasco Vilaca of Portugal were all inthe conversation as potential winners, joined by a strong French contingent of Aurelien Raphael and Anthony Pujades.
Into the water for the opening 200m swim in the Zwemcentrum’s 50m Olympic pool, and experienced French triathlete Aurelien Raphael would lead at the front, ahead of compatriot Anthony Pujades and Arena Games regular Jonas Schomburg.
The 1km run leg saw Raphael pushing a 20km/h pace ahead of Schomburg and Pujades, with Arena Games London champ Van Riel in fourth. Raphael would maintain a very slight advantage into T2, with Schomburg and Van Riel in his slipstream.
Onto the bike and a group of six would form, with Brit Alex Yee and Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca joining the mix. It would come down to a cobblestone shootout for the Stage 1 title, with Vilaca breaking free before being usurped by Van Riel at the line. Yee would take Stage 1bronze.
RUNOnto Stage 2’s 1km run leg and Alex Yee would take control, establishing a 3sec advantage over Van Riel and Schomburg, with Romanian athlete Felix Duchampt dropping out at the rear.
The 3km bike saw Van Riel ride shoeless, a tactic to save time in transition, but Yee would maintain a lead at the front. That daylight would be erased at the 1km mark as the group of leading contenders became a gang of six once again. All would cross the line together for a vital bike-to-swim transition.
Van Riel would enter the water marginally ahead of the chasers, and the 28-year-old Belgian would maintain that advantage throughout, holding off a field of formidable tri swimmers to take the Stage 2 win and make it 20 points from 20.
All was to play for on Stage 3, but Van Riel held the strongest hand with 20 points out of 20.
In a similar vein to the women’s race, tactics came into play and the group rode as a whole onto the cobbled section with 200m to go. Local Rotterdam hero Marco Van Der Stel would take the bike leg win.
The final 200m swim saw Pujades take to the front, with Van Riel close behind to maintain his position as the heavy favourite to take the Rotterdam title.
Onto the run and Yee would surge to the front of the chasing pack behind Van Riel, moving from fifth to second in the Stage 3 placings. But Van Riel was too far in front, securing another stage win to make it a perfect 30 points out of 30 in Rotterdam.
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