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How good are elite triathletes?

larkimlarkim Posts: 2,301
edited August 2016 in Pro race
I made the somewhat bold suggestion on the beginners forum that elite triathletes such as the Brownlee brothers were superior cyclists to most (if not all) participants on the bike radar forums. I drew the analogy with their running ability where objectively you can see that the ability to run a sub 30 minute 10k would put them in the top 30 of all runners in the UK each year.

Road cycling is obviously harder to compare, particularly as the Olympic distance triathlon is only a 40-ish km ride with a group, which isn't the sort of pro ride you'd often see.

So what would be the view here - are triathletes just really good runners who cycle at mid pack local club level, or are they close to elite level cyclists, who happen to run and swim at close to elite levels too?
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  • ddraverddraver Posts: 21,052
    A naturally talented sportsman is a naturally talented sportsman

    But junior triathletes are usually picked based on their running and swimming ability becasue those are the legs where you can really make/lose time, especially now you can draft in elite level triathlon
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    Well Phil Graves won IM UK and he's won about 8 TT's in a row this year and another half dozen.

    I think he trains with the Brownlees.

    I'd definitely put them at elite level cyclists - certainly not mid pack local club level.

    For their discipline though it's drafting allowed on the bike so you'll not see them rocking up at TT's - its a completely different race.
  • imatfaalimatfaal Posts: 2,716
    43km in 59 mins on a flat course with drafting (london olympics) - it is pretty good; but it ain't great. Might be faster than most of us manage - faster than me - but closed roads and drafting adds a huge bonus; there are definitely members here who would challenge that time. And whilst being preceded by a swim and followed by a run breaks the rules - the speed they do the combination is pretty awesome.

    I would love to see Triathlons vary the order (ok technically difficult) - would require a whole new approach
  • bendertherobotbendertherobot Posts: 11,672
    Brownlee's recent 53 minute 40k is obviously well off Dowsett's TT. But that's a meticulously planned world record and Dowsett was only wet after it, not before it. I don't think Brownlee would challenge the time but could certainly go sub 50 minutes. I think he's pretty good and certainly better than me :D
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  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    Yeah don't forget that they have to be able to run a world class 10k time after their race. I doubt Dowsett was in the shape for a Race For Life after that effort... :-)
  • bobmcstuffbobmcstuff Posts: 9,129
    I had a graduate in my last job who was previously an elite Scottish triathlete. He competed at the top level as a junior but narrowly missed out on representing Scotland at the Commonwealths and basically realised he wasn't good enough to make a proper career out of it.

    Cycling was his favourite part so he still races. I think he's currently a Cat 2, but I think he should be higher - although he's a good rider I think trying to juggle having a full time job with training has been a bit difficult for him (compared to before when he was a student and had lots of time to train).

    I also ride regularly with someone who's training for an Ironman, he is a very strong rider but his bike handling/group riding skills are frankly terrifying... Also he's not much fun to ride with at the moment because he's training hard so every ride is at a constant blistering pace, he doesn't ease up or really put in specific efforts like you would if you were out for a regular training ride. Guess it's a bit like riding behind a derny or scooter.
  • imatfaalimatfaal Posts: 2,716
    And god knows how good they would be if they actually stopped that silly splashing about in the water and jogging - and concentrated on the proper sport in between - there is no doubt they are extraordinary athletes with huge dedication
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,567 Lives Here
    Armstrong was alright.

    Basically all the problems with Armstrong stem from the fact he was a triathlete first.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    I've raced against Gethin Butler and Harry Walker at Duathlon - jeez those guys are still fast. I know Gethin has won marathons as well as keeping his hand in cycling wise. Gethin absolutely wiped the floor in his age group at the last race we both did.
  • bendertherobotbendertherobot Posts: 11,672
    Oh and, to add, I went for a run last Friday.

    I shall absolutely not be doing that again.
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  • RichN95.RichN95. Posts: 24,262
    edited June 2016
    At Olympics distance where they can draft the top competitors are primarily runners (Richie Porte used to be a triathlete but despite his clear cycling ability he wasn't good enough a runner to be world class).

    tas_05.jpg

    At Ironman the cyclists will be better as there's no drafting and cycling makes up about half the duration.
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  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,567 Lives Here
    3871673208_fa167dfa27_o.jpg
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,567 Lives Here
    34515-large_011_Alcatraz2011.jpg
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,567 Lives Here
    Compression calf covers are not acceptable.


    wf_bike.jpg
  • bendertherobotbendertherobot Posts: 11,672
    What an utter pair of planks. I mean, arm warmers with that gap? And sunglasses UNDER helmet straps? I despair.
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  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,567 Lives Here
    v1ZdPQ.gif

    Here's a tip. Don't do a sport where you need to run with a bike.

    Oh and then of course there's the "exciting" triathlon finish, where being able to put one foot in front of the other is considered a luxry.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKhkvSRQZYo
  • bobmcstuffbobmcstuff Posts: 9,129

    Here's a tip. Don't do a sport where you need to run with a bike.

    What about 'cross?
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,567 Lives Here
    I stand by my comment.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    You'd kinda think the pros would know to look where they're going eh ? ;-) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBtCaLYFKjo
  • bendertherobotbendertherobot Posts: 11,672
    I never run with my bike in Cross. Never. There's much ambling though.
    My blog: http://www.roubaixcycling.cc (kit reviews and other musings)
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  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,567 Lives Here
    fenix wrote:
    You'd kinda think the pros would know to look where they're going eh ? ;-) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBtCaLYFKjo

    Great sport, where they are actually world best at something.

    Rather than being pretty good at a few things. I can be pretty good at bloody 50 different sports inlcuding 'who can be the thinnest headhunter in the room' but it's just a joke.

    I mean, it was basically devised by parents to knacker out their kids. It's the only sport I know that punishes you for not putting your clothes away properly.

    "Oh, you're back from your bike ride? go for a run. NO, PUT YOUR CLOTHES IN THE BOX!!!"

    :roll:
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    "Your cap fell on the floor - 30 seconds on the naughty step for you !"
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,567 Lives Here
    Anyway, whatever triathletes, go crash on someone else's club run.
  • larkimlarkim Posts: 2,301
    So we're agreed, they are really quite good, close to elite level cyclists, but really should drop the running and swimming nonsense and just concentrate on being better cyclists?
    2015 Canyon Nerve AL 6.0 (son #1's)
    2011 Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc (son #3s)
    2013 Decathlon Triban 3 (red) (mine)
    2019 Hoy Bonaly 26" Disc (son #2s)
    2018 Voodoo Bizango (mine)
    2018 Voodoo Maji (wife's)
  • CrozzaCrozza Posts: 991
    it's interesting to look at how well pro cyclists do when they immediately switch to triathlon upon retirement

    there was speculation that Armstrong would blow everyone away on the bike leg and, although he was certainly among the fastest in the sport in that discipline, he wasn't putting minutes into people over a HIM or IM (90/180km)

    same was also true of Jalabert

    as noted above there is precedent for the move the other way - Armstrong again, Porte, Spencer Smith (banned from tri for nandrolone, so took up cycling :lol: )
  • singletonsingleton Posts: 1,662
    Speaking as someone who until recently did Triathlon (ahem).

    Lots of races are non-drafting, but the big events like Olympics where they do multiple laps of a course to improve audience viewing can't be. It would be impossible to keep the athletes 10m apart at all times and in reality they would end up disqualifying everyone at every race. In a drafting race it doesn't make sense to break-away on your own on the bike only to be caught on the run by someone who sat in.

    But they are good - good at all disciplines.
  • ozzzyosborn206ozzzyosborn206 Posts: 1,340
    i imagine if the brownlees took up cycling full time they would be conti level, doubt they would be world tour level otherwise surely thats what they would be doing as there is probably more money in cycling*


    *i say this not really knowing how much top triathletes make but guess its not as much as top cyclists?
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 11,836
    larkim wrote:
    I made the somewhat bold suggestion on the beginners forum that elite triathletes such as the Brownlee brothers were superior cyclists to most (if not all) participants on the bike radar forums.

    With a couple of notable exceptions that is pretty low bar. Cavendish climbs mountains quicker than "most (if not all) participants on the bike radar forums", and he does it after 100km or so of riding.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    Armstrong was alright.

    Basically all the problems with Armstrong stem from the fact he was a psychopathic bully.

    And a former triathlete...
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,567 Lives Here
    Same thing. ;)
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