Lionel Sanders says the growing presence of motos at elite races means it will be difficult for triathletes like him to make an impact in the future.
The topic of motos in the sport hit the headlines in the most tragic of circumstances when an operator died following a horrific collision at IRONMAN Hamburg last month. And there is another reason they are controversial – the impact they can have on race results.
For Sanders that is a major concern, with his relative weakness in the swim meaning he is playing catchup on the bike rather than benefiting from being at the front in the slipstream of those vehicles. As the Canadian explained in an interview with Super League Triathlon, it’s also a complex topic.
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Lionel Sanders on impact of motos
“Anyone who can swim can get into triathlon. If you can swim, the Ironman side of things, it’s basically semi draft-legal,” he explained.
“The draft zone hasn’t been changed since like the beginning of our sport for the most part. The speeds have gone up, up, up yet the rules have remained the same. So if you can swim, absolutely.
“Now is the door shutting on guys like me who don’t swim front pack? I’d say we’re getting there, because of media vehicles, the combination of our sport growing and various entities coming in and helping the sport really, which is great for the sport.
“But that may be shutting the door on guys like me. If I was trying to come up now, it would be a lot harder for sure, because there’s really nowhere to cut your teeth. Small races, there’s still media.
“IRONMAN is putting media vehicles and stuff out in a Galveston or Oceanside, there’s gonna be media vehicles there. And they greatly affect the race and the pack dynamics and everything. It just greatly affects the race for better or worse, that’s our sport.”
What it means for weaker swimmers
The way the sport is evolving means only one thing for athletes like Sanders, and the 35-year-old warned up-and-coming hopefuls like him that they should expect a major challenge.
“I can tell you that, if you want to come up as a weaker swimmer like I did, if you think 400 Watts is a lot of wattage, well you’re gonna have to change that, because that’s what is gonna be required to bridge the gap now.
“You’re gonna have to really swim well and continue to improve your swimming, and then push 400-plus Watts until you bridge to the front. There is no other way, there’s none of this ‘ride steady, ride your own power’ – that doesn’t exist any more, not for guys like me.”