Van Riel Toasts Success and Prepares for Even Better to Come

It’s been a year of gears, cheers and even a few beers for Marten Van Riel.

The Belgian star, who has just celebrated his 27th birthday, has had the year of his career.

From improved performances in Super League to success over a variety of distances, Van Riel has truly announced himself on the world stage.

After taking a well deserved off season, where Van Riel enjoyed a bit of time as a ‘non-athlete’, he is back to the hard work readying himself for what could be a year to remember in 2020.

Super League spoke to Van Riel as he ramped up his training ahead of Christmas, and here’s what he had to say:

It’s been a long and fantastic year for you. What have been your highlights?

It has definitely been a long but fantastic year for me. The highlight is my third place in WTS Edmonton. My big goal before the season was to step onto the podium of a WTS race and I am more than happy to be able to execute this. Also winning the first ever 70.3 race I competed in was pretty surreal!

You have raced and been successful across a range of distances from Super League through to half iron. What is the key to that success?

I think the foundation we lay for Olympic distance racing is more than enough to cover every distance from 20 minute relay or Super League races to four hour 70.3 races. Ironman would be a different thing, but Ironman athletes training more than ITU athletes is a myth in my opinion.

We probably do more (intense) shorter sessions, but they do less frequent but longer sessions.

In the end we will be quite close volume wise so I think that is why the half distance is the perfect clash between short and long course athletes.

Are you training differently for each event?

We always do a little bit of specific training. Of course more speed work before a Super League race and a bit more long work before a half Ironman, but we also train more on hills for hilly courses or more on cornering before technical courses. So we always train for whatever the next event brings us.

Sometimes events follow closely behind each other so you have almost no time to do very specific stuff. I was pretty “unprepared” for the half distance for instance.

Your Super League season got off to a solid start at Jersey and then you really did well in Malta. How happy are you with how it has gone so far?

In Jersey, I did not have the feeling/result I wanted. I just felt off the whole weekend. But in Malta I had a great feeling.

Overall I am quite happy with how these races have gone, in a series of races you always have good and bad days, but I feel confident I can improve on these results.

What do you find are the particular challenges of racing Super League?

Funnily enough I find the warm-up the biggest challenge of it all. For such a short intense event, the warm-up is very different and a lot more important than in an Olympic distance race. I still have to find what works for me.

Also staying focussed and pressing through the pain during your weak events to stay in the running when doing double or triple triathlon formats is very mentally and physically challenging. Sometimes you really have to give yourself 100 per cent in the first part of the race, just to stay in contention. There is no resting in Super League.

What are your goals and expectations for when the Championship Series resumes after the Olympics?

I hope to stay consistent during all the events and of course I want to get onto the podium of a race. I have been fourth in two of the three Super League events I have done, so stepping it up would be awesome. I think if I can execute this, I can get close to the overall podium as well.

Obviously 2020 is a big year for everybody in the sport. What are your goals?

If I look at next year, I feel like I am only going to do important races. WTS Series, Olympics, Super League, Worlds 70.3. But obviously the Olympics is the biggest goal of them all.

Finally, it must now be time for a break. Do you take an off season and if so what will you do?

I do take an off-season. I enjoy staying at home, catching up with my friends, having a good party and drinking some beers. Just feel like a “non” sportsman for a little, no pressure, not “having” to train or watching what you eat.

I am slowly getting back into it now. I did almost no training for two weeks, but I am fully recharged and motivated and it is time to focus on 2020 now.


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