Teams Talk: Would Tim Don Protect His Short Chutes And Retain Lopes Or Gamble For A Title Contender?

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Tim Don proved to be by far and away the best manager in the debut season of SLT Teams. His style was much appreciated by the athletes as he took the most active and hands-on role of any Team Manager.

His vast, top level experience was invaluable for race advice and tactics, both before and during races, and his active course side presence really did help in steering the Eagles through more difficult moments in events. It has really set the trend in terms of management style.

As you would expect given their huge margin of victory, Don also drafted superbly.

Team Eagles

His female picks were perfect. Jess Learmonth was raking in points all over the place, while Taylor Spivey, Vicky Holland and Vittoria Lopes all also heavily contributed.

Alex Yee took the men’s title while Seth Rider was an astute pick as he dominated in the bike leaderboard.

But while Don’s well thought through and studious approach caught the other Team Managers unawares in 2021, it will be hard to replicate. His very success has educated the rest of the managers and they will be massively upping their games in 2022.

What have they learned?

Solid picks and team management are key.

Don’s drafting was second to none, and obviously that is huge, but he also nurtured his team. He picked on character as well as performance, and then was the most proactive manager with his team, taking them on various bonding trips, and speaking to them regularly as a group.

Super League 2021 Munich Womens Race Jessica Learmonth

It really helped create that team atmosphere from day one, whereas in other teams it was more of a slow burner. Expect more of the same from him this year.

Do they retain?

In the men’s undoubtedly yes if Alex Yee is confirmed to be racing. If not, it becomes more of a head scratcher.

The women’s is fascinating.

Don had by far the strongest women’s team last year, and yet may not retain this time out.

Jess Learmonth is the obvious retention, but injury means she is currently unavailable for selection. Vicky Holland is also not racing in 2022.

So does Don retain Taylor Spivey, always a strong performer at Super League but not yet a genuine title contender? Or does he retain Lopes if she races?

Alex Yee Super League Triathlon Jersey 2021

On first glance it seems a bold move to keep Lopes given she often finishes at the back of the field. But Lopes will rake in substantial swim points and contribute a Short Chute in almost every race. She offers huge value, but he would have to take his chances with bagging a title contender in the open draft if he retains her, or risk her going elsewhere and doing damage to his team if he releases her.

What should their tactics be?

Given last year’s tactics of taking educated gambles, it would not be a surprise to see Don take a punt on retaining Lopes if she races, but boy that is risky. He will want a balanced team and will look to assemble an overall leaderboard contender, a swimmer, a biker and a runner, and blend together personalities.

Super League London Womens Race Cs 325

But that is far from easy when every manager this year is likely to want the same.

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