Super League Mallorca – The Weekend Preview
We’re here – it’s race weekend, Mallorca has provided the perfect build up for our athletes, but now it’s business time with two days of professional racing ahead.
Both fields are led by athletes who have taken two for two in the first of the Championship Weekends (Jersey & Malta). With Mallorca being the third, that leaves only one remaining chance to garner points following this weekends action. This weekend will decide how things sit going into the winter break before Singapore. This matters, and everyone knows it!
Katie Zaferes and Vincent Luis are both sitting on 50 points each leaving the rest of the field work to do to keep their chances alive, but this is Super League Triathlon (SLT) so anything can, and will happen.
On the men’s side Henri Schoeman trails Luis by 8 points, as he finished second in both preceding weekends. Schoeman is looking to beat Luis this weekend if he has any chance of taking the title.
“I’ve just got to beat him, I’m going to make sure I give 110%, it’s probably going to come down to a sprint I reckon, but if I can beat him before that it will be really good. It’s going to be extremely difficult, it’s a tough course again, I think he’s really tired, we all are. Hopefully my small frame can get over the hills a lot easier than he can.”
In an ideal world Schoeman will have athletes in-between him and Luis to bridge the points deficit even more, allies are hard to come by in SLT, but Schoeman is hoping he can find some.
“I have a couple of alliances out there, but yes there are a lot of enemies as well, it’s a brutal race. It’s going to be really exciting.”
Schoeman believes tactics will play a huge part in his race set up, with confidence on the bike playing a huge part.
“It’s going to be very tactical on the hill – pushing as hard up the hill as you can to get that gap, whilst coming down the hill, I don’t think there is going to be a lot of passing. You have to be very careful, and very skilful going into the corners. You don’t want to be too fast on the downhills because you could crash, and throw away your entire race”.
Richard Murray is a further 8 points back from Schoeman, so not only looking for a victory, but also for Luis to falter, and fall further down the field. After a confidence boosting win last Saturday, he’s hoping a change in formats this weekend will help him chase down Luis.
“Firstly I’m stoked there is no swim time trial this weekend, which helps me a lot. Last weekend I knew Saturday was the cherry on top of my cake, so I had to go for it, but Sunday was going to be a difficult day to get on to the podium. This weekend I’m looking forward to it, swim-bike-run in different formats, I love that type of thing. Sunday will be the first time we’re doing the Sprint Enduro, so something different, and I think it’s going to be a tactical one.”
This weekend he needs to beat Luis, and Schoeman to have a shot at the title in Singapore, and in an ideal world bring others with him, but rather than overthink it he’ll approach it like he does any other race.
“I’m going to stick to the basics, try not to look at the points all that much, it’s all about performance on the day. With Singapore coming around, I’m hoping it’ll be as hot as it can be there, as I love the heat, hotter the better for me. Hopefully it’ll all come down to the last one, if it falls apart on the last race, and you get very few points, you can drop very easily. You have to make sure you’re good right to the finishing line. I’m looking forward to this weekend.”
Sitting in fourth position 22 points off Luis, Jonny Brownlee has mountain to climb to challenge Luis. He’s not a stranger to adversity, and has the skill set, not only take the victory this weekend, but also create alliances to work against the leader.
“Vince has been incredible so far in the first two rounds, he’s a great all round triathlete, and that’s what SLT really demands. Mallorca is a different venue, a different course, a more challenging course, and with a different format as well. A new aspect is there are two races on Sunday, and everyone has tired legs from last weekend, but I think I can recover better than everyone else. Hopefully I’ve got a chance of beating Luis this weekend, but he’s an incredible athlete…I’ll try my best.”
In the women’s field Kirsten Kasper is 14 points behind Zaferes, so needs a clear victory to keep her realistic chances alive. She needs to find a way around Zaferes, which is not something she has managed to do yet.
“She’s a hard one to beat, but I think what this weekend is going to come down to is tactics, using the short chute, and the course to my advantage.”
Not only does she need to beat Zaferes, but also needs to hold off a hard charging Summer Cook, and an on form Rachel Klamer.
“It is a challenging course, but that’s why we come to SLT, I’m pretty excited for it, it plays to my strengths, as I’m an all round athlete, so I’ll give it my all.”
Outside of Zaferes, Cook is looking to hunt down the leading American duo, 24 points off the lead of Zaferes, things are looking tough for the third American to keep her title chances alive.
“What I’m going to be focused on this weekend is making good decisions, putting myself in the mix, and trying to race upfront. That’s the only way that any of us have a chance of beating Katie.”
She’s constantly learning as she makes her way through the series, always quick to analyse issues before the next race, and implement solutions.
“I had really poor transitions last week, so that’s definitely an area in which I’m looking to improve. I’ve also been working on putting myself up front in all of the disciplines to ensure I’m one of the front runners.”
Not only has Cook got her sights on the lead, but she also has to keep her wits about her from behind with this weekends racing featuring a beach start into the sea.
“Emma Jeffcoat and Taylor Spivey grew up as surf lifesavers, so I think they’ll be really good with the start, and the surf. The real fun of SLT is that it can be anyones game, and anything can happen. That is what makes it exciting.”
Rachel Klamer had a big weekend in Malta, and is now riding a wave of momentum, and confidence into Mallorca. She’s looking to take down the three Americans in front of her, and use this weekend as a springboard to future SLT success.
“Last weekend was a bit of a struggle, as I had to ride myself back into the group every lap. This weekend is going to be different, as it’s a similar type of course, but the weather is a bit colder, and I prefer hot weather. I need to get myself into the front group as early as I can. The key to beating Zaferes is to be there on the front from the very start.”
A recent return of bike confidence means this technical course may well play into her hands.
“I’m excited for the bike, I wouldn’t have said that a few weeks ago, and I’m still trying to figure out why it’s coming back. The bike course is tough, and I love tough bike courses. Bring on the hills.”
With multiple finishing combinations possible it’s clear the athletes on both sides are thinking about one thing, and one thing only – the win. Take the win, and worry about the rest later, as if they rely too heavily on tactical positioning, they could find themselves out in the cold come Singapore.
It’s going to be a fascinating weekends racing with nothing left in the locker room. Tune in to SLT wherever you are, and watch the best in the world adapt to yet another new course, yet another new set of conditions, yet another new set of formats, and implement yet another set of tactical decisions.
Half way through the series yet it’s all to play for!
Current Championship Standings
- Katie Zaferes 50 pts
- Kirsten Kasper 36 pts
- Summer Cook 26 pts
- Vincent Luis 50 pts
- Henri Schoeman 42 pts
- Richard Murray 34 pts